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Ozone in mountain ecosystems

Posted date: January 23, 2015
Publication Year: 
Authors: Musselman, Robert (Bob) C.;
Document type: Briefing Papers


Ozone (O3) in the lower atmosphere is highly reactive and can damage the tissues found in the leaves of plants. However, little is known about ambient O3 concentrations at remote, non-urban mountainous areas of the western U.S.

Key Points:

  • Ozone (O3) is a widespread air pollutant formed primarily by nitrogen oxides reacting with volatile organic compounds on warm, sunny days.
  • O3 can kill leaf tissue, reduce plant growth, and make plants more susceptible to other stresses such as drought.
  • Portable battery powered monitors can be used for determining O3 values at remote locations.
  • O3 levels increase with elevation and exceed air quality standards in remote ecosystems in Colorado and Utah.