British scientist who helped discover Antarctic ozone 'hole' dies

May 13, 2013 at 5:22 PM

CAMBRIDGE, England, May 13 (UPI) -- Joe Farman, a British physicist who helped identify the "hole" in the ozone layer over the southern pole, has died, British Antarctic Survey officials said.

Farman, who published the discovery of the ozone hole along with two colleagues in the journal Nature in 1985, died Saturday at age 82, they said.

"Joe was an excellent physicist and his work changed the way that we view the natural world," British Antarctic Survey interim Director Alan Rodger told the BBC.

"After making the discovery of the ozone hole he became an energetic ambassador for our planet."

The discovery by Farman and his colleagues of the ozone hole in the atmosphere over the South Pole prompted the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement that banned the production of chlorofluorocarbons -- chief culprit in ozone depletion -- around the world.

Farman graduated from Cambridge University in 1956 and was appointed as a scientific officer at the Falkland Islands Dependency Survey, the predecessor of the British Antarctic Survey.

In 1976 he turned his attention to ozone monitoring, using balloon measurements in the stratosphere at altitudes of more than 70,000 feet to detect a significant decline in the concentration of ozone in the Antarctic spring.

The monitoring also detected high levels of chlorofluorocarbons -- commonly used at the time as refrigerants, spray-can propellants and as solvents -- confirming concerns man-made chemicals were responsible.

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