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Solar domes

Solar domes.

With or without you

13 July 2009

Ozone gas is like Jekyll and Hyde: it's both good and bad. Too much is poisonous, but without it life on Earth isn't possible.

Ozone is a colourless, odourless gas made up of three atoms of oxygen. It can exist anywhere in the Earth's atmosphere, but is concentrated in the upper layers of the atmosphere, where it protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

But down at ground level, the gas is a pollutant and in recent years, researchers have noticed that levels of the gas are rising. This is bad news not just for our health, but for all plant life. If concentrations of ozone are high enough, it can kill plants and trees.

Dr Gina Mills from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology at Bangor is looking in detail at the effects of different ozone concentrations on different plants - like buttercups and grasses - and on trees such as birch, alder and beech.

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The results from Gina's group's research is fed into policy documents, which are used by the United Nations and the European Commission to help set standards for ozone pollution.

Science writer and broadcaster Richard Hollingham visits Gina and her colleague Felicity Hayes at some geodesic domes near Bangor to find out more.


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