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Air quality and climate change links revealed

Monday 08 December 2008

pollutionAir quality and climate change initiatives need to be linked in order to progress in both fields, scientists have claimed at a UN conference on global warming. New research shows closer links between the carbon cycle, low-level ozone and atmospheric aerosols than previously thought, prompting calls for joined-up solutions.

Scientists claim that many greenhouse gases and aerosols linked to climate change are also linked to air quality and human health. For example, ozone contributes to global warming and is also a powerful respiratory irritant in levels frequently observed in urban areas. It is predicted that by 2090 up to one-fifth of the world’s population will be regularly exposed to unsafe ozone levels, underlining the scale of the issue.

“This complex cycle means that increased carbon dioxide reduces the removal of ozone by plants during the growing season, resulting in higher atmospheric ozone concentrations,” said Vicky Pope, Head of Climate Change Advice at the Met Office. “High levels of ozone poison plants and reduce the rate of photosynthesis which, in turn, reduces the absorption of CO2 by plants, leading to increased global warming.”

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