F. Sherwood Rowland
Born: 28 June 1927, Delaware, OH, USA
Died: 10 March 2012, Corona del Mar, CA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
Prize motivation: "for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone"
Field: atmospheric and environmental chemistry
Prize share: 1/3
The atmosphere around our earth contains small amounts of ozone; molecules made from three oxygen atoms. Ozone has played a major role in absorbing ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which would otherwise negatively impact life on earth. In 1974, Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina demonstrated that CFC gases, freons, have a damaging effect on ozone in the atmosphere. Freons had many uses, including propellants in spray cans and refrigerants in refrigerators. By limiting the use of freons, the depletion of the ozone layer has been slowed.