Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The discovery of the new Arctic ozone hole - a time for thought

The news:

According to a ScienceDaily report from yesterday (03.10.2011), a new ozone layer hole 3 times the size of Germany has opened on the Arctic during the winter. Between 18 and 20 kilometres up, over 80 per cent of the existing ozone was destroyed. The hole was similar in size to those seen in Antarctica in the 1980s.

The implications:
The stratospheric ozone layer protects life on Earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Depletion of the ozone layer allows more ultraviolet radiation to reach the surface. Increases in UV radiation are known to have harmful effects on living things (more particularly causing skin cancer, high blood pressure and general discomfort).

The triggers:
The ozone hole forms when extremely cold conditions trigger reactions that convert atmospheric chlorine from human-produced chemicals into forms that destroy ozone. The scientists found that at some altitudes, the cold period in the Arctic lasted more than 30 days longer in 2011 than in any previously studied Arctic winter, leading to the unprecedented ozone loss. Further studies are needed to determine what factors caused the cold period to last so long.

The conclusions:
I leave this to you, my readers.