- A large hole has opened up in the ozone layer over the
Arctic, which scientists believe will severely damage the natural shield
protecting the northern hemisphere from cancer-causing sunlight.
- Results of the world's biggest ozone-monitoring experiment
show that more than 60 per cent of the ozone layer has been lost at certain
altitudes over the North Pole - a deterioration on 1997, the previous worst
year. Climatic conditions needed to trigger ozone destruction by man-made
pollutants were nearly perfect for much of this polar winter. "These
losses are likely to affect the ozone levels over Europe during spring.
This is one of the most substantial ozone losses at this altitude in the
Arctic," the scientists said in a statement issued yesterday.
- The ozone layer in the upper atmosphere is the key filter
for damaging ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation in the Sun's rays. Without
it, organisms suffer extensive DNA damage, which in humans results in a
greater increase in the risk of skin cancer, eye cataracts and defects
in the body's immune defences.
- An Arctic ozone "hole" - actually a thinning
of the layer to less than half its usual density - could easily be blown
south by high-altitude winds, and appear over populated areas of North
America, Europe and the northern regions of Britain.
- Scientists taking part inthe ozone experiment, a joint
initiative by America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa),
the European Ozone Research Co-ordinating Unit, based in Cambridge, and
the European Union's research directorate, will pass their results to the
Meteorological Office, which is responsible for issuing warnings about
- Although an ozone hole over the South Pole is a regular
phenomenon, it is only in the past five years that scientists have begun
to witness a similar event over the North Pole.
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
Site Served by TheHostPros