Old ice and snow yields tracer of preindustrial ozone

Using rare oxygen molecules trapped in air bubbles in old ice and snow, U.S. and French scientists have answered a long-standing question: How much have "bad" ozone levels increased since the start of the Industrial Revolution?

Ozone

Ozone or trioxygen (O3) is a triatomic molecule, consisting of three oxygen atoms. It is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic O2. Ground-level ozone is an air pollutant with harmful effects on the respiratory systems of animals. The ozone layer in the upper atmosphere filters potentially damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the Earth's surface. It is present in low concentrations throughout the Earth's atmosphere. It has many industrial and consumer applications.

Ozone, the first allotrope of a chemical element to be recognized by science, was proposed as a distinct chemical compound by Christian Friedrich Schönbein in 1840, who named it after the Greek verb ozein (ὄζειν, "to smell"), from the peculiar odor in lightning storms. The formula for ozone, O3, was not determined until 1865 by Jacques-Louis Soret and confirmed by Schönbein in 1867.

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