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Arctic Ozone Loss Ahoy!

Posted by feww on March 30, 2011

Arctic losing ozone rapidly

Atmospheric ozone levels in the Arctic approaching the lowest levels on modern record

Large ozone depletion in the Arctic is currently occurring because of unusually low temperatures, according to extensive measurements carried out throughout the Arctic and Subarctic regions, which are coordinated by Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.


The above  ozone concentrations maps for the Arctic region are from  the OMI on NASA’s Aura satellite. Left image, showing relatively high ozone, is for March 19, 2010;  right, showing lower levels, is for the same date in 2011. See animation. Source: NASA-EO. Click image to enlarge.

“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,” says AWI researcher Markus Rex.“Since the conditions leading to this unusually rapid ozone depletion continue to prevail, we expect further depletion to occur.”

“The changes observed at present may also have an impact outside the thinly populated Arctic. Air masses exposed to ozone loss above the Arctic tend to drift southwards later. Hence, due to reduced UV protection by the severely thinned ozone layer, episodes of high UV intensity may also occur in middle latitudes.” AWI said.

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