Arctic ozone layer depleted by 40 percent: Experts

April 6th, 2011 - 6:11 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 6 (IANS) The ozone layer that shields us from the sun’s harmful rays has depleted by a record 40 percent over the Arctic, experts have said.

The long, cold winter and lingering CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) in the atmosphere have resulted in its 40 percent plunge, they said.

The record loss has caused alarm because it allows more harmful ultraviolet (UV) light to reach the Earth’s surface, raising the odds of sunburn, skin cancer and eye damage, Daily Mail reported on its website Wednesday, citing experts.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Wednesday revealed that ozone column loss had reached 40 percent this spring.

A WMO spokesperson said: “Depletion of the ozone has reached an unprecedented level over the Arctic this spring because of the continuing presence of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere and a very cold winter in the stratosphere.

“If the ozone depleted area moves away from the pole and towards lower latitudes one can expect increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation as compared to the normal for the season.

“Some crops and forms of marine life can also suffer adverse effects.”

The highest ozone loss previously recorded over the Arctic was about 30 percent and occurred in several seasons over the past 15 years, the WMO said.

Any increase in UV radiation over lower latitudes away from the Arctic could affect parts of Canada, the Nordic countries, Russia and Alaska in the US.

UV-B rays have been linked to skin cancer, cataracts and damage to the human immune system.

The record ozone loss over the Arctic comes despite the “very successful” Montreal Protocol aimed at cutting production and consumption of ozone-destroying chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons, the Mail reported.

The substances were once present in refrigerators, spray cans and fire extinguishers, but have been phased out.

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