Leon Teisserenc de Bort may not be a familiar term or household name but the Ozone Layer is. Without Teisserenc’s discovery of this important part of Earth’s atmosphere, the world of meteorology would not be what it is today.
Leon Teisserenc de Bort was born on November 5, 1855 in Paris, France. He developed a love for science at a young age and entered his science career in 1880 when he joined the Administrative Center of National Meteorology, a department of the French Government. He became Chief of the Center from 1892 to 1896. His journeys to Northern Africa to study geology and territorial magnetism, led him to publish some important charts on the distribution of pressure at heights of 4,000 meters above the earth’s surface.
In 1896, Teisserenc left the National Meteorology Center and opened his own private observatory. He focused on investigating clouds and problems with upper air. He was one of the first scientists to use unmanned, high flying hydrogen balloons and discovered an indication of a temperature inverse roughly 15-50 kilometers above the earth. He named this layer the stratosphere which contains the Ozone Layer and would later prove to be extremely valuable for understanding properties of the earth’s air.
Ozone is a pale blue gas that is both poisonous and explosive. In nature, it is formed by an electrical discharge through oxygen particles and accounts for the distinct odor of air after a thunderstorm. It can be artificially manufactured using the same principle of electrical charge and is used in modern water purification systems, deodorization, bleaching and other chemical reactions, making the discovery of this important property extremely important in the scientific world.
Teisserenc named the layer of air directly below the stratosphere, the troposphere. Almost all water vapor and weather systems occur in the troposphere. This layer of air starts at the earth’s surface and extends to approximately 17 kilometers at the equator. Teisserenc’s discoveries showed a marked decrease in temperature and breathable oxygen at the juncture of these two layers of atmosphere.
Without Leon Teisserenc de Bort’s studies and discoveries, modern science would not be where it is today. From everyday uses of chemical processes to weather study and air travel, the scientific world relies on Teisserenc’s foundational work.
Leon Teisserenc de Bort was elected as a fellow of the Royal Meteorology Society in 1903 and was awarded the Symons gold medal of the Society in 1908. He died on January 2, 1913 in Cannes France. The crater Teisserenc on the Moon and the crater Teisserenc de Bort on Mars are both named after this great meteorologist. For more information and history on this amazing man visit this website.