Record Ozone Hole May Open Over Arctic In The Spring

2016-02-11T11:19:21+00:00 February 11, 2016|
Rare nacreous clouds over Belfast, Ireland, recently. (Credit: Eskling/Flickr)

(Click to enlarge) Rare nacreous clouds over Belfast, Ireland, recently. (Credit: Eskling/Flickr)

Lingering atmospheric pollutants and a blast of frigid air have carved an unusually deep hole in Earth’s protective ozone layer over the Arctic, and it threatens to get deeper.

(From Science/ by Eric Hand) — Atmospheric scientists are analyzing data from weather balloons and satellites for clues to how the ozone will fare when sunlight—a third factor in ozone loss—returns to the Arctic in the spring. But they are already worrying about how extra ultraviolet light might affect humans and ecosystems below and wondering whether climate change will make such Arctic holes more common or severe.

Record cold temperatures in the Arctic stratospheric ozone layer, 15 to 35 kilometers up, are the proximate cause for this year’s losses, because they help to unleash ozone-destroying chemicals. “This winter has been stunning,” says Markus Rex, an atmospheric chemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany. By next week, about 25% of the Arctic’s ozone will be destroyed, he says.

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