Arctic Ozone Hole Is Largest Ever Recorded

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Scientists say a hole in the Arctic’s protective ozone layer last winter was the largest ever recorded, reaching an extent typically observed above Antarctica.

While so-called ozone “holes” have occurred each summer since the mid-1980s over Antarctica — where extreme cold and powerful wind patterns trigger reactions that convert chlorine from human-produced chemicals into ozone-destroying compunds — warmer stratospheric temperatures in the Arctic have typically limited ozone loss.

According to a new study, published in the journal Nature, unusually low stratospheric temperatures and powerful high-altitude wind patterns above the Arctic earlier this year created the conditions for an unprecedented ozone hole over northern Russia and parts of Norway and Greenland, exposing populations across the region to high levels of ultraviolet radiation.

“Arctic ozone loss events such as those observed this year could become more frequent if winter Arctic stratospheric temperatures decrease in future as the Earth’s climate changes,” said Kaley Walker, a University of Toronto physicist who participated in the study.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

photo: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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