Ozone pollution causes $63 billion damage per year to East Asian crops

4 months ago 68
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Rising levels of ground-level ozone successful China and adjacent countries are having a large effect connected the yields of staple crops specified arsenic wheat, atom and maize

Environment 17 January 2022

By Michael Le Page

Aerial View of Beijing

Emissions from vehicles successful places similar Beijing, China, are contributing to a emergence successful ozone contamination successful East Asia

AerialPerspective Images/Getty Images

Increasing concentrations of ground-level ozone successful East Asia are causing ever much harm to crops. The comparative autumn successful yields of wheat, atom and maize successful China, Japan and South Korea is costing $63 cardinal a year, according to Zhaozhong Feng astatine the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology successful China and his colleagues.

Surface ozone concentrations successful China person been rising by astir 5 per cent a year, says Feng. “Such a accelerated summation of aboveground ozone has accrued the ozone menace to harvest yields,” helium says.

Ozone is simply a highly reactive gas. Its beingness in the stratosphere is beneficial arsenic it blocks unsafe ultraviolet light, but ground-level ozone harms plants and animals. Surface ozone forms erstwhile nitrogen oxides (NOx) respond with volatile integrated compounds successful the beingness of sunlight.

Surface ozone levels person increased successful galore regions worldwide due to the fact that of NOx pollution, mainly from vehicles. Crop yields person besides mostly risen owed to improved methods and varieties, but they would beryllium adjacent higher without ozone.

Based connected measurements from 3000 sites successful China, Japan and South Korea, Feng’s squad estimates that ozone contamination is causing comparative output losses of 33 per cent for wheat, 23 per cent for atom and 9 per cent for maize.

This is astir treble estimates from 2016. The summation is partially due to the fact that ozone levels are present higher and partially due to the fact that the researchers cipher that ozone does much harm than antecedently thought, says Feng.

The estimation of $63 billion-worth of harvest losses is plausible, says Nigel Bell astatine Imperial College London. The huge interaction of aboveground ozone has dilatory been becoming clear, helium says. “It’s thing that gradually crept up connected us.”

Because farming is 1 of the biggest sources of greenhouse state emissions and continued onshore clearance for farms is causing situation loss, the findings mean that ozone contamination is besides indirectly starring to global warming and biodiversity loss. But the narration betwixt ozone and different aerial pollutants is complex, making it hard to tackle the occupation successful the abbreviated term.

One of the reasons ozone levels are rising successful China is owed to falling levels of particulate pollution, says Feng. Particulates trim ozone by blocking sunlight and by inhibiting the chemic reactions that nutrient the gas.

What’s more, precise precocious levels of nitrogen oxides devour ozone, says Feng, truthful reducing NOx contamination tin summation ozone levels. “These processes unneurotic lend to the accelerated summation of aboveground ozone successful China,” helium says.

Journal reference: Nature Food, DOI: 10.1038/s43016-021-00422-6

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