Tropical Fires Fuel Elevated Ozone Levels Over Western Pacific Ocean
A diverse team of atmospheric chemists, meteorologists and modelers, including scientists from NASA, has traced the origins of mysterious pockets of high ozone concentrations and low water vapor in the air above the western Pacific Ocean near Guam to fires burning in Southeast Asia and in Africa, half a world away. These pockets of ozone—a powerful greenhouse gas—are three times more concentrated than surrounding air and are found at around 30,000 feet in the lower part of Earth's atmosphere known as the troposphere, within the cruising altitude of most commercial airliners. As a greenhouse gas, ozone in the troposphere is an important contributor to global warming, but because it varies widely in where it occurs and how long it stays aloft, its true impact on climate change is hard to determine.
Scientists have observed the anomaly in ozone concentrations in the past, theorizing that the ozone had descended from a higher layer of the atmosphere called the stratosphere, where the air is dry and ozone acts as a protective layer, since it blocks harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching Earth's surface.
NASA Earth Observatory