UBC Undergraduate Research

The effects of tropospheric ozone pollution on forests Tsai, Tim


Ozone is a significant risk factor to the health of the forest ecosystem. The level of this atmospheric oxidant has increased in regions of the US and Canada, highlighting the importance of understanding its impact on agricultural crops and forest tree health at large. However, the link between the occurrence of ozone and forest damage is not firmly established because of limited knowledge on the acclimation of growing trees to ozone. The insufficiency of knowledge stems from challenges in conducting accurate and thorough assessments of ozone injury on the forest. Evidence from experiments show that ozone can impose stress on trees, and it can affect forest tree metabolism by interfering with carbon dynamics, which are associated with photosynthesis, respiration, and carbon allocation. In this paper, the phytotoxic effects of ozone are described by first providing background information on the formation and calculation of ozone, followed by a discussion of the underlying mechanism and symptoms of ozone damage. Case studies from Southern California and Switzerland are also included to highlight the relationships between ozone concentration, drought, and tree species. Lastly, the difficulties in conducting ozone studies are detailed, along with the serious implications of ozone damage, such as the loss of genetic diversity within the forest.

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