New Ozone Concerns - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

New Ozone Concerns

            Researchers now say a seasonal "ozone hole" could likely form over the North Pole within 30 years. The hole could allow harmful rays from the sun to hit the more-populated Arctic regions.

 

            This is common each year over the South Pole, but an excess of ozone and relatively warmer winters compared to the South Pole have kept ozone loss at a minimum over the northern Polar region.

 

            This could be a major issue, since some 700 million people live in Arctic regions, exposing many more people to harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV) as compared to the southern polar region.  Ozone blocks dangerous UV rays by the sun from reaching Earth.

 

            When thick volcanic particles combine with natural polar clouds and a cold winter, the potential for ozone destruction increases over the North Pole.  The temperatures in the lower stratosphere (generally 10-17 miles above the earth’s surface) must be about 112 degrees below zero or lower.  This is more common over the South Pole, but it also occurs over the North Pole, although the arctic temperature regime is much more variable.

           

Thanks to global wind patterns in the upper atmosphere, the sulfuric ash from large volcanic eruptions gets blown over one of the Poles. If it is cold enough -- around 112 degrees below zero -- potent polar clouds can form.

 

Clouds from large volcanic eruptions add to the clouds already in place over the polar-regions, and given cold enough temperatures, it appears as though ozone destruction increases in these cases.  This has been recently documented following large eruptions over the past twenty years.

 

The significance of upper-atmosphere ozone depletion has been well documented in the medical community.  It is generally accepted that this ozone depletion is allowing increased dangerous UV radiation into our atmosphere, quite possibly increasing cancer rates, and possibly other diseases not yet well understood.

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