Ozone may be weakening one of Earth's most important cooling mechanisms, making it a more significant greenhouse gas than previously thought, researchers have found.
A new study has revealed that changes in ozone levels in the upper and lower atmosphere were responsible for almost a third of the warming seen in ocean waters bordering Antarctica in the second half of the 20th century.
The deep and rapid warming in the Southern Ocean affects its role as one of the main regions for soaking up excess heat as the planet warms.
Most of this warming was the result of ozone increases in the lower atmosphere. Ozone -- one of the main components of smog -- is already a hazardous pollutant, but the research shows it may also play a significant role in driving climate change in the coming years.