Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Ground-level Ozone Following Astrophysical Ionizing Radiation Events

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 15, 2015
Filed under
Ground-level Ozone Following Astrophysical Ionizing Radiation Events

Astrophysical ionizing radiation events such as supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, and solar proton events have been recognized as a potential threat to life on Earth.

This threat would result primarily through depletion of stratospheric ozone and subsequent increase in solar UV radiation at Earth’s surface and in the upper levels of the ocean. Other work has also considered the potential impact of nitric acid rainout, concluding that no significant threat is likely. Not yet studied to-date is the potential impact of ozone produced in the lower atmosphere following an ionizing radiation event.

Ozone is a known irritant to organisms on land and in water and therefore may be a significant additional hazard. Using previously completed atmospheric chemistry modeling we have examined the amount of ozone produced in the lower atmosphere for the case of a gamma-ray burst and find that the values are too small to pose a significant additional threat to the biosphere. These results may be extended to other ionizing radiation events, including supernovae and extreme solar proton events.

Ground-level ozone following astrophysical ionizing radiation events: an additional biological hazard?

Brian C. Thomas (Washburn Univ.), Byron D. Goracke (Washburn Univ.)
(Submitted on 12 Oct 2015)

Comments: Accepted for publication in Astrobiology
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1510.03360 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1510.03360v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Brian Thomas
[v1] Mon, 12 Oct 2015 16:45:10 GMT (463kb)

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