Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ozone biomonitoring

Pieter Smit of North-West University, South Africa, was at HOORC recently, working with Dr Wellington Masamba to establish an experimental site as part of the APINA Ozone Biomonitoring Project. The project, sponsored by SIDA and coordinated by the Air Pollution Information Network for Africa, aims at monitoring the occurrence of tropospheric ozone in southern Africa. Tropospheric or ground level ozone is a secondary pollutant, formed in the atmosphere by ultraviolet radiation in combination with emissions from human and natural sources, including fire, that affect human health, natural vegetation and crop yields. From previous measurements and modeling, it appears that the Okavango region has high levels of tropospheric ozone. The research site at HOORC will monitor ozone levels through observing the growth and damage to two types of clover (Trifolium repens), one ozone sensitive and one ozone resistant.

HOORC's project, part of a larger effort begun in 2005 in South Africa and now extending to other countries in the SADC region, will run throughout the 2007-08 rainy and dry seasons. The project team hopes to later extend the work to study the effect of ozone on locally important crops. Findings will be used to establish critical levels to assist southern African governments in regulating pollutant emissions.

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