Monitoring ground-level ozone from space

Aug 29, 2011

Satellite views of the Midwestern United States show that ozone levels above 50 parts per billion (ppb) along the ground could reduce soybean yields by at least 10 percent, costing more than $1 billion in lost crop production, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists.

In a 5-year study led by the , Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Lisa Ainsworth, ARS Fitz Booker, and university scientists surveyed widespread ozone damage to soybeans in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, using both ozone surface monitors and .

Ainsworth works at the ARS Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit in Urbana, Ill., and Booker works at the ARS Plant Science Research Unit in Raleigh, N.C. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

Satellite information is useful for investigating ozone impacts on crop yields because satellite information is available for rural regions, where ground monitoring networks do not exist. Satellite observations, which are also available for farmland in countries without ground networks, could provide important insight into the global extent of ozone reduction of crop yields.

Ozone levels in most urban areas of the United States have declined with improvements in emission controls, but they are still high enough to damage soybean, peanut, cotton, rice, tomato and other crops. Ozone levels are expected to rise in countries like India and China as growing populations are able to afford more cars and build more power plants. Another concern is that will rise in developing countries, whose people can least withstand losses of staples such as rice and wheat.

Ainsworth's and Booker's findings are consistent with those from their SoyFACE (Soybean Free Air Concentration Enrichment) experiments and studies in outdoor open-top chambers. SoyFACE involves testing plants in open-air field conditions under atmospheric conditions predicted for the year 2050. The consistency of the satellite data with SoyFACE findings and the agreement with data from ozone surface monitors suggests that satellites provide an effective way to monitor crop damage from ozone.

This research, in support of the USDA priority of responding to climate change, was published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

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GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Aug 29, 2011
Ozone levels are expected to rise in countries like India and China as growing populations are able to afford more cars and build more power plants. Another concern is that ozone levels will rise in developing countries, whose people can least withstand losses of staples such as rice and wheat


This sounds awefully familiar, just like predictions of crop failure from 20 and 40 years ago. The flip side of the coin in regard to places like China and India is that even if they do suffer crop yield losses due to ozone, they are also the places which still stand to gain the biggest increase in yield due to other factors such as modern farming techniques, education of farmers, better seeds, irrigation, crop rotation strategies, etc. The above report does not seem to address those factors at all. As ozone levels rose here in the US several decades ago, we continued to enjoy rapid gains in farm yields. I don't think the above statements are comprehensive.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Aug 29, 2011
Oh, and here's a big, fat, flashing and screaming alarm bell:

The article is two years old. lol. September 2009. Ooooops!

http://www.ars.us...1113.htm

Gotta love it when they recycle these old articles and then don't include the source reference. I suppose this could be some kind of update because the old story didn't mention satellites, but read with caution. I'll keep digging to see if I can find an updated story.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Aug 29, 2011
The only recent article I can find from SoyFACE is the following which found that increased o3 resulted in decreased evapotranspiration and improved soil moisture:

http://www.scienc...11001631

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