Climate scientists at Columbia University in New York have discovered that the hole in the Earth’s ozone layer may be contributing to global warming by altering wind patterns and cloud cover in the southern hemisphere. These meteorological changes appear to be affecting the way the sun’s radiation reflects off the clouds, leading to a warmer planet.
Columbia University researchers used computer models to examine the impact the ozone hole may have on the jet stream over Antarctica. They believe it may be pushing clouds closer to the South Pole, resulting in less solar radiation being reflected away from the Earth. Given that scientists have already discovered that the hole is affecting ocean currents, this isn’t a big surprise.
It’s still unclear exactly how much the ozone hole may be contributing to the rise in global temperatures. The researchers estimate that about 0.09 watts of solar radiation is hitting the ground per square foot of ozone hole – that’s much lower than the temperature increase caused by greenhouse gas emissions. However, this study will help climate scientists create more accurate predictions of the climate throughout the southern hemisphere.