Ground-level ozone could be important factor in climate change
If you’ve spent time proudly mastering the difference between ground-level ozone and climate change, prepare to be flummoxed: the two issues appear to be linked. According to a study in Nature, ground-level ozone damages plants, affecting their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, which allows more CO2 to wander into the atmosphere and doom the planet. “Ozone could be twice as important as we previously thought as a driver of climate change,” says coauthor Peter Cox of England’s University of Exeter. Plants and soil store about a quarter of human carbon dioxide emissions, but the researchers say increases in ground-level ozone — which has doubled since the mid-19th century — “could lead to significant reductions in regional plant production and crop yields.” While science types had already pegged ozone higher in the atmosphere as a heat-trapping gas, most studies of lower-level ozone had focused on human health effects. Now, they say, climate models have a whole new factor to consider. Great.