Could Fixing the Ozone Layer's Hole Make Global Warming Worse?


Image from NASA

Talk about a lose-lose situation: On one hand, not taking any action to repair the hole would allow harmful UV radiation to percolate through; on the other hand, helping to accelerate its recovery could strengthen global warming by trapping more heat in the atmosphere and by disrupting wind patterns in the Southern Hemisphere -- causing warming in Antarctica.

So says a new study published in Science, in which a team of climatologists, led by Columbia University's Seok-Woo Son, found that as ozone depletion reverses in the Southern Hemisphere, the stratosphere will begin to rapidly warm up. The influence of the Southern Annual Mode (SAM)
The reason, ScienceNOW's Phil Berardelli explains, is the presence of the Southern Annual Mode (SAM), a wind pattern created by the appearance of the ozone hole that prevents warm air from reaching Antarctica. The researchers' findings, based on climate change computer models, demonstrated that ozone-induced warming could dampen the effect of SAM, potential wreaking havoc on the region's climate.

Stratospheric ozone wasn't considered a major player in climate change until recently, says Lorenzo M. Polvani, one of the study's co-authors. Son and Polvani caution that more research will needed to validate their findings and examine the link between the ozone layer's recovery and warming in the region. Still, predicaments like this make for tough choices.

Via ::ScienceNOW: The Ozone Layer's Unwelcome Return? (news website)

More About the Ozone Hole
::Regional Nuclear War Could Create the Mother of all Ozone Holes
::Pumping Sulfate Particles into the Stratosphere: Not Such a Hot Idea After All
::The Pitfalls of Prosperity: There Goes the Ozone Layer

Tags: Ozone