Chemical equator keeps pollution north
by David Masters
September 26, 2008
A group of UK scientists has completed important research into a phenomenon known as the ‘chemical equator’ that prevents pollution from the industrialised north invading the atmosphere of the southern hemisphere.
Previous research into the chemical equator led scientists to believe that it followed the line of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), a cloudy belt around the earth that separates the weather systems of the northern and southern hemispheres.
However, chemical researchers at the University of York have demonstrated that the chemical equator is not necessarily the same as the ITCZ.
The newly discovered chemical equator was found to be 50km wide, and a long way north of the ITCZ.
Air quality either side of the 50km belt varied significantly, with carbon monoxide four times higher on the north side.
Both the ITCZ and the chemical equator help to keep pollution in the northern hemisphere, whilst the skies above the southern ocean remain pristine despite forest fires in Thailand and Sumatra.
Scientists hope the discovery will help to map and predict pollution levels in different regions around the world, as new models simulating the movement of pollutants can be created.
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