Scientist Warns of ARCTIC Ozone Hole
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SCIENTIST WARNS OF ARCTIC OZONE HOLE
October 26 2000
London - A leading British scientist predicted on Thursday that an ozone
hole would start developing over the North Pole, similar to the badly
damaged ozone layer over Antarctica.
Jonathan Shanklin - one of a trio of British scientists who discovered the
Antarctic ozone hole in 1985 - told the BBC: "We think that within the next
20 years we're likely to see an ozone hole perhaps as big as the present one
over Antarctica, but over the North Pole."
The cause, he said, was partly ozone erosion as well as a byproduct of
An obscure aspect of global warming is that even though it increases the
temperature at the Earth's surface, it paradoxically causes colder
temperatures in the lower stratosphere, where the ozone layer is located.
These lower temperatures, especially in winter, cause stratospheric clouds
to form in the polar regions, initiating a reaction with chlorine molecules
released by manmade gases, he said.
"Chemistry can take place on them (the clouds) that activates the chlorine
and makes it very much easier for it to destroy the ozone," Shanklin said.
The Antarctic hole has been expanding dramatically in the past few years.
This year's was the largest recorded. US satellite measurements last month
estimated it three times bigger than the entire land mass of the United
However, such is Antarctica's isolation that only a small number of people,
living in the Falkland Islands and the tip of South America, are affected so
But a similar-sized hole over the North Pole would affect densely-populated
parts of western Europe, northeast Asia and North America.
Ozone molecules make up a thin layer of the atmosphere that absorbs harmful
ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, a potential cause of skin cancer,
sunburn, cataracts and damage to forests and crops.
Man-made gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons and bromides are
the chief cause of ozone layer destruction.
The first global agreement to restrict CFCs came with the signing of the
Montreal Protocol in 1987, ultimately aiming to reduce them by half by 2000.
Until recently, climatologists hope these curbs would lead to a recovery of
the ozone layer within 2050, but recent investigations suggest the problem
is much worse than previously thought.
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