Oh! zone

Published: Wednesday 31 May 2000

Following two winters of low ozone loss in the stratosphere, the Arctic is likely to have experienced record ozone destruction. The ozone layer thins out during spring but so far has never disappeared. Ozone losses of more than 60 per cent have occured at altitudes of around 18 km. This is one of the worst ozone losses at this altitude in the Arctic. "The ozone hole is already close to the deepest yet seen and there is still ozone destruction going on up there," says John Pyle of the European Ozone Research Coordinating Unit. According to the National Aeronautical and Space Administration's (nasa) toms satellite, because of the record low temperatures, ozone destruction this year has already lasted longer and been more widespread than in 1997. On this occasion, however, ozone levels started from a much higher level in the autumn. Fears regarding the ozone layer exist despite curbs on the use of chlorofluorocarbons (cfcs) . The ozone layer, which shields the earth from the sun's harmful ultra-violet (UV) radiations, has been thinning due to the use of CFCs. UV rays can cause skin cancer and glaucoma.

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