The ozone layer of the Earth’s upper atmosphere plays a crucial role in blocking the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation. However, as new research has shown, its importance for the Earth’s surface temperature is much higher than we previously thought. Without the ozone layer, our planet would be 3.5 Kelvin colder.
The role of ozone in studying Earth’s climate has long been ignored by most climate models. But a new study published in the preprint journal arXiv has shown that the presence of ozone has a warming effect on our surface temperature, raising the Earth’s surface temperature by about 3.5 Kelvin on average.
To study the effect of the ozone layer, the researchers used a set of Earth climate models. They varied the amount of ozone in the upper atmosphere and allowed Earth’s temperature to reach equilibrium. The results of the study showed that if the ozone layer were to disappear, whether because of humans or in some other way, it would have catastrophic consequences for our climate.
The main effect of a lack of ozone would be to cool the upper stratosphere. Colder air cannot hold as much moisture, so the stratosphere would become drier. Water vapor is an important greenhouse gas, so without it, the Earth’s overall greenhouse effect would be reduced.
The lack of ozone and the resulting cooling of the stratosphere would also destabilize this layer of the atmosphere, preventing cloud formation. This would cause clouds to appear only at lower and higher altitudes. In addition, some jet streams at the equator would strengthen and others at the poles would weaken. This would have serious implications for seasonal weather patterns at all latitudes.
Scientists also note that the ozone layer was not always there on Earth. Before the advent of life, there was virtually no ozone in the atmosphere. It was only in relatively recent times that it stabilized to the thick levels we see today. The role of the ozone layer in the Earth’s climate system is related to its ability to absorb ultraviolet radiation, which can cause skin cancer and other diseases.
Research has shown that the ozone layer plays a crucial role in maintaining the Earth’s surface temperature. Its disappearance would have catastrophic consequences for our planet’s climate. Therefore, preserving the ozone layer is one of the most important tasks for mankind.