Antarctic Ozone Layer Thinning Dramatically
Discovery Earth Alert, August 31, 2000
A United Nations agency reported on Tuesday that the ozone layer above Antarctica is being depleted at an accelerated rate. The Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said, "The latest satellite observations in the sunlit portion of the Antarctica perimeter show an average decrease of about 30 percent in the total amount of ozone overhead, when compared to the 1964-76 norms." The hole has been closely monitored by satellites and ground-based instruments after being discovered in the 1970s. Last September, the WMO reported that the so-called "ozone hole" above Antarctica was the largest yet recorded for the month. The size of the hole equaled an area two and one half times the size of Europe. Taysir al-Ghanem, a spokesman for WMO, said, "This is an alarming rate of decrease. It is double the amount we had observed two weeks ago, and this could lead to a much greater ozone hole." Widening of the hole is blamed on the release of manmade gasses such as chlorofluorocarbons and bromides into the atmosphere. Depletion of the ozone layer enables more ultraviolet radiation to reach the Earth, increasing the incidence of skin cancer and cataracts, as well as the suppression of the immune system.