Dramatic Loss of Arctic Ozone
by Joshua S Hill
The European Space Agency, the UN'S World Meteorological Organization, and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research are among the leading authorities reporting a record depletion of the ozone layer over the Arctic.
According to the WMO, "depletion of the ozone layer ... has reached an unprecedented level over the Arctic this spring because of the continuing presence of ozone-depleting substances..."
The ESA noted that the "Envisat satellite has measured record low levels of ozone over the Euro-Atlantic sector of the northern hemisphere during March."
While Germany's AWI noted that "over the past few days ozone-depleted air masses extended from the north pole to southern Scandinavia" lead "to higher than normal levels of ultraviolet radiation during sunny days in southern Finland."
They went on to add that "these air masses will move east over the next few days, covering parts of Russia and perhaps extend as far south as the Chinese/Russian border."
The drastic loss of ozone is a result of unusually strong winds, known as the polar vortex, which secluded the atmospheric mass over the North Pole and ensured that it did not mix with air in the mid-latitudes. As a result, low temperatures such as take place every winter in the southern hemisphere over the Antarctic occurred in the Arctic region, increasing the depletion of ozone particles.
More information on why cold weather affects ozone particles in this way can be found in my article from earlier in March, which looked at warnings from scientists at the AWI regarding the possible record depletion of ozone.
"Our measurements show that at the relevant altitudes about half of the ozone that was present above the Arctic has been destroyed over the past weeks," Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association (AWI) researcher Markus Rex said in early March. "Since the conditions leading to this unusually rapid ozone depletion continue to prevail, we expect further depletiofn to occur."
"Such massive ozone loss has so far never occurred in the northern hemisphere, which is densely populated even at high latitudes," said Rex on April 5, in light of the most recent findings. "If elevated levels of surface UV occur, they will last a few days and sun protection will be necessary on those days, especially for children," Rex added.
Reprinted with permission from Planetsave