New research highlights the key role of ozone in climate change

Earth
A composite image of the Western hemisphere of the Earth. Credit: NASA

Many of the complex computer models which are used to predict climate change could be missing an important ozone 'feedback' factor in their calculations of future global warming, according to new research led by the University of Cambridge and published today (1 December) in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Computer models play a crucial role in informing climate policy. They are used to assess the effect that carbon emissions have had on the Earth's climate to date, and to predict possible pathways for the future of our climate.

Increasing computing power combined with increasing scientific knowledge has led to major advances in our understanding of the climate system during the past decades. However, the Earth's inherent complexity, and the still limited computational power available, means that not every variable can be included in current models. Consequently, scientists have to make informed choices in order to build models which are fit for purpose.

"These models are the only tools we have in terms of predicting the future impacts of , so it's crucial that they are as accurate and as thorough as we can make them," said the paper's lead author Peer Nowack, a PhD student in the Centre for Atmospheric Science, part of Cambridge's Department of Chemistry.

The new research has highlighted a key role that , a major component of the stratosphere, plays in how climate change occurs, and the possible implications for predictions of global warming. Changes in ozone are often either not included, or are included a very simplified manner, in current climate models. This is due to the complexity and the sheer it takes to calculate these changes, an important deficiency in some studies.

In addition to its role in protecting the Earth from the Sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, ozone is also a greenhouse gas. The ozone layer is part of a vast chemical network, and changes in environmental conditions, such as changes in temperature or the atmospheric circulation, result in changes in ozone abundance. This process is known as an atmospheric chemical feedback.

Using a comprehensive atmosphere-ocean chemistry-climate model, the Cambridge team, working with researchers from the University of East Anglia, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, the Met Office and the University of Reading, compared ozone at pre-industrial levels with how it evolves in response to a quadrupling of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is a standard climate change experiment.

What they discovered is a reduction in global surface warming of approximately 20% - equating to 1° Celsius - when compared with most models after 75 years. This difference is due to ozone changes in the lower stratosphere in the tropics, which are mainly caused by changes in the atmospheric circulation under climate change.

"This research has shown that ozone feedback can play a major role in and that it should be included consistently in climate models," said Nowack. "These models are incredibly complex, just as the Earth is, and there are an almost infinite number of different processes which we could include. Many different processes have to be simplified in order to make them run effectively within the model, but what this research shows is that ozone feedback plays a major role in climate change, and therefore should be included in models in order to make them as accurate as we can make them. However, this particular feedback is especially complex since it depends on many other climate processes that models still simulate differently. Therefore, the best option to represent this feedback consistently might be to calculate ozone changes in every model, in spite of the high computational costs of such a procedure.

"Climate change research is all about having the best data possible. Every climate currently in use shows that warming is occurring and will continue to occur, but the difference is in how and when they predict warming will happen. Having the best models possible will help make the best ."


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More information: The paper, "A large ozone-circulation feedback and its implications for global warming assessments" is published in the journal Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2451
Journal information: Nature Climate Change

Citation: New research highlights the key role of ozone in climate change (2014, December 1) retrieved 25 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-12-highlights-key-role-ozone-climate.html
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User comments

Dec 01, 2014
Little by little we make progress.

Dec 01, 2014
Why am I so suspicious? Obama/EPA is trying to force through ozone regulations that will cost the US 100s of billions of dollars and further turn the US into a 3rd world economy and now conveniently it is discovered that "Climate Change" is caused by ozone.

All of you Pollyannas that think that climate science is this pure field of research that is devoid of political influences had better get your collective ( in the most progressive/communist sense ) heads out of you butts.

Dec 01, 2014
Mr166, you are losing and screaming in the night. You conveniently project the ethics of your own profession onto scientists, but they are held to a stricter standard than businessmen, financiers, politicians, evangelists, and car salesmen.

Dec 01, 2014
Many of the complex computer models which are used to predict climate change could be missing an important ozone 'feedback' factor in their calculations of future global warming,
So the science isn't settled?


Dec 01, 2014
Shyster, pseudo science from Academic Alarmist Alchemist's.
LOONer modelers gkam. There's your strict standard....

Dec 01, 2014
This will be moot soon. The capital costs of PV is now equal to other systems, but it does not require fuel, and produces at the peak of the load.

We will not need their dirty power.

Look up Updated Capital Costs, from EIA, and see what they were 18 months ago. PV is significantly cheaper now than then, so other technologies are already too expensive to compete with PV in the daytime, and many cannot compete with wind at night.

If health care costs of the technologies were considered, we would have transitioned over long ago.

Dec 01, 2014
Gkam when solar actually costs rate and taxpayers less or equal to other forms of energy I will be the first to welcome it with open arms. Fossil fuels are way too valuable as transportation energy to waste on electric production.

Dec 01, 2014
At what point are we going to stop getting an "Oh, we were mistaken - it's some other source caused by man that is causing progressively falling temperatures over the last 2000 years that we aren't talking about."?


Dec 02, 2014
NASA IPCC are misleading on CC Problem is not GW BUT WATER I am not CC denier GHG idea is imaginary Gases can't form green house They cool down by convection method Gases can't make green house Details in devbahadurdongol.blogspot.com

Dec 02, 2014
Ozone depletion is not possible. Ozone as such can't exist as a layer. It is extremely unstable and heavier than O2. It breaks into oxygen atoms as soon as it forms (if not kept pressurized in a closed container).It is formed when oxygen molecules breaks into atoms with heat of high temperature (UV). Stratosphere is tremendously cold zone and extremely low pressure. Ozone formed breaks down into oxygen atoms as soon as it forms and releases heat. Even at sea level at NTP ozone is unstable. So ozone layer exists only in theory. Intermittently forming of ozone will continue until the oxygen is in the atmosphere and we receive UV from the sun. So ozone depletion is not possible. Ozone formation is a step to return heat back to space.
It is not ozone that blocks heat but O2 and in the process O3 is formed to release the heat absorbed by O2

Dec 02, 2014
NASA IPCC are misleading on CC Problem is not GW BUT WATER I am not CC denier GHG idea is imaginary Gases can't form green house They cool down by convection method Gases can't make green house Details in devbahadurdongol.blogspot.com

Complete and utter bollocks .... and trolling to boot.
Try posting evidence (science) that supports your case if (not via biased blogs).
Hint: You wont find any.
FFS squared.

Dec 02, 2014
Ozone depletion is not possible.

Oh, really?
Then what are satellites observing over Antarctica?

http://ozonewatch...asa.gov/

Get down your rabbit hole my friend and/or go back and talk to your friends, the Fairies.
FFS squared

Dec 02, 2014
Ozone depletion is not possible.

Oh, really?
Then what are satellites observing over Antarctica?

http://ozonewatch...asa.gov/

Get down your rabbit hole my friend and/or go back and talk to your friends, the Fairies.
FFS squared


Run; these nutbags are getting stranger every day. This one gives deniers a bad name. He not only declares CO2 to be a fictitious problem, he denies the existence of an ozone problem. To quote you: FFS^3.

Dec 02, 2014
NASA IPCC are misleading on CC Problem is not GW BUT WATER I am not CC denier GHG idea is imaginary Gases can't form green house
@dev_dangol
1- GHG is not imaginary idea
2- your comment is pure conjecture without evidence
3- ( http://pubs.giss....al_1.pdf ) read that study- it is some legitimate science which proves that your GHG comment is not only wrong, but that you should consider looking up information before commenting (this is readily available to anyone so it is not a matter of cost)
...Ozone as such can't exist as a layer
you really should look things up before posting
http://www.ozonel...sics.htm
http://www.nas.na...yer.html
https://en.wikipe...ki/Ozone
https://en.wikipe...ki/Ozone_layer

Ozone layer is not speculative, it is a measured, observed thing

and your blog is not science
it is speculation not supported by evidence

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