Joseph Farman - UK Researcher Who Confirmed Existence Of Ozone Hole - Dead At 82
Joseph Farman, a British researcher whose single-minded and at times officially derided study of atmospheric changes in the Antarctic established the existence of a hole in the ozone layer over the South Pole approximately the size of the United States — one of the most important environmental discoveries of the 20th century — died May 11 in Cambridge, England. He was 82.
After 1974, when two American scientists, Mario Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland, proved that chlorofluorocarbons, commonly used in aerosol spray cans and refrigeration, could destroy ozone in the upper atmosphere, the United States and a few other countries began regulating their use and scrutinizing the ozone readings already being collected by NASA satellites.
But Mr. Farman refused to stop making ground-level readings, despite his superiors’ questions about their usefulness, and despite his lack of standing in the field of ozone research. He did not have a Ph.D., and his primary work was in meteorological science. His dedication, as much to the principle of scientific record-keeping as to ozone study, would make him something of a working-class hero among scientists.
“His willingness to do research he thought was important, even when others did not, made him a model scientist,” said Sharon Roan, author of the 1989 book “Ozone Crises: The 15-Year Evolution of a Sudden Global Emergency.” “He wasn’t looking for anything astonishing — just doing a little job, and persevering at it. And he came up with the most astonishing discovery.”