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Scientist who helped identify hole in ozone layer passes away

Scientist who helped identify hole in ozone layer passes away

THE death has taken place of Joe Farman, one of the scientists who helped establish there was a hole in the ozone layer above antarctica. He was 82.

It was in 1985 that Dr. Farman, together with colleagues Brian Gardiner and Jon Shanklin, reported their discovery of an ozone hole following extensive research at the British Antarctic Survey.

The discovery is regarded as being one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th. Century. Dr. Farman recalled how they had become aware of what was happening to the ozone layer: “Suddenly in 1985 it dawned on us that we were sitting on top of one of the biggest environmental discoveries of the decade. I support, or perhaps even of the century. We saw this little dip appearing, and then it just accelerated so rapidly that, within three or four years, we were talking about a reduction of 30 per cent in the thickness of the ozone above us.”

As a result of the discovery, the Montreal Protocol was established in an effort to control CFC (chlorofluoro carbons) production. CFCs were known to be causing damage to the ozone layer.

However, while evidence of the ozone hole had helped raise awareness of climate change issues, Dr. Farman was at times critical of politicians for what he saw as a failure to take a lead in cutting CO2 emissions.

Dr. Farman had worked as a scientific officer in the 1950s at the Falkland Islands Dependency Survey (which preceded the British Antarctic Survey). He took up the post of head of the physics section of the BAS in 1976.

In recognition of his work in discovering the hole in the ozone layer, Dr. Farman received a number of honours. He was awarded an O.B.E. in 1988, and was made a 2000.

Among the many tributes was one from Professor Alan Rodger, interim director of the British Antarctic Survey. He said: “Joe was an excellent physcist and his work changed the way that we view the natural world. After making the discovery of the ozone hole he became an energetic ambassador for our planet.”

To see Dr. Farman explain how a Dobson Spectrometer was vital to his research, click here.

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