GB No. 9, autumn 1992



Ozone, a strong oxidant, an effective disinfectant, an element well recognized for its therapeutic properties by modern medicine, was discovered in the 19th century.

The exact concentration of ozone in the atmosphere over a particular area of the globe is very difficult to determine, as it keeps changing all the time, depending on a number of factors. So far, no effective methods for the prediction of those changes have been found. The substantial body of data being gathered by the international network of measuring stations (structured in the so called Global Ozone Observation System - GOOS - under the auspices of the World Meteorological Association in Geneva, also responsible for the standardization of all in-coming data) actually tells us only about the average changes in the concentration of ozone, relative for a specific area. This value would vary, depending on the latitude of a given area (maximum ozone concentration is typical for the polar regions, whilst the minimal is said to be characteristic for the equatorial ones) and the specific season of the year.

In the early springtime (March-April) its concentration reaches the highest level on the northern hemisphere; at the turn of September and October its level is highest on the southern hemisphere.

The layer of uniformly concentrated ozone surrounds the globe some 10 - 25 km away from its surface. This concentration diminishes sharply beneath and above that value.

There is a noticeable rise in its concentration directly above the earth's surface, though, resulting partly from the natural processes (statics) and partly from the large emissions of pollutants, both industrial and motoring ones.

Poland, a member country of the GOOS network, has a long tradition in the measuring of ozone concentration in the atmosphere.

It was in Kraków, where one of the first long term scientific observations were conducted as early as 1854. The systematic research was pursued there until 1878, its results subsequently published in 1882. The study provides an interesting insight into the pre-industrial period, especially valuable for comparison with the contemporary data, gathered with the aid of the highly advanced modern measuring techniques.

The Central Geophysical Observatory in Belsk, near Warsaw, has been involved in the systematic gathering of data on the ozone distribution in the atmosphere since 1963 and the quality of the research carried out there has always been held in high esteem at the Geneva headquarters of the World Meteorological Organization. The spiritus movens of the Belsk station is the ozone project scientific co-ordinator Ms Aniela Łosiowa, PhD, a great specialist on the subject and the author of the unique monograph "Ozone in the Atmosphere".

The centre in Belsk is presently undergoing rapid modernization process; only in February 1991 a Brewer's spectrometer for ozone, sulphur dioxide and UV radiation was installed there, whilst the installation of an advanced meter for determining the ground level concentration of ozone is expected still this year.

At the beginning of this year the centre in Belsk provided the information about a sharp 40% fall in the concentration of ozone in the atmosphere. It had started in mid December'91 and lasted until mid February'92. The Belsk readings were consistent with the data collated from the whole northern hemisphere at the time. This summer, for instance, the drop in ozone concentration amounted to a mere 10% .

Agnieszka Zdasień
Natalia Tułecka
Ozone Project Young Reporters - Kraków

GB No. 9, autumn 1992 | Contents