Houston Matters

What’s the Link Between Houston’s Ozone Problem and Climate Change?

Last week, we spoke with News 88.7 energy and environment reporter Dave Fehling about why it is some areas of Houston seem to experience spikes in ozone levels when other areas don’t. He noted there isn’t scientific consensus on the reason. However, University of Houston researchers believe there’s a connection between ozone levels in Houston and […]

Last week, we spoke with News 88.7 energy and environment reporter Dave Fehling about why it is some areas of Houston seem to experience spikes in ozone levels when other areas don’t. He noted there isn’t scientific consensus on the reason.

However, University of Houston researchers believe there’s a connection between ozone levels in Houston and climate change. Robert Talbot is a Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at UH. He and his colleagues published a paper last week in the journal Atmosphere, which took 23 years of ground-level ozone data from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and compared it to meteorological data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They found climate change – in the form of a stronger sea breeze resulting from warmer soil temperatures — contributed to a drop over time in high-ozone days in the Houston area.

We talk with Talbot about his report and clarify that we’re still experiencing a high number of high ozone days in Greater Houston, but that – at least according to the UH research – what improvements we have seen over the last 20-plus years may ironically have as much or more to do with climate change brought on by higher carbon emissions than any intentional efforts locally to reduce those emissions.

MORE: Full Report in the Journal Atmosphere

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