Expanding ozone hole approaches Europe

An exceptionally large area of depleted ozone has formed over the North Pole, and scientists warn that it could settle over Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, including Romania on 30-31 March.

The fast-thinning Arctic ozone layer was first detected by an international network of over 30 ozone sounding stations spread across the Arctic and sub-Arctic, and coordinated by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.

“The ozone loss is still going on at high rates and we don’t see an end to that for at least 10-14 days,” Markus Rex, an atmospheric scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute, told EurActiv. “The degree of ozone loss in the Arctic is clearly larger than in any winter so far,” he added.

Data is still being collated and a collection of atmospheric scientists from around the world plan to release a statement on the phenomenon at a conference in Vienna on 4 April.

Ultra-violet radiation (UV) exposure from the depleted ozone layer is less dangerous than that found in the tropics, but scientists still advised caution.

“You can protect yourself by keeping informed, putting on a wide-brimmed hat and sun screen, and not spending too many hours outdoors”, Gier Braathen, a senior scientific officer at the World Meteorological Organisation, told EurActiv. A “severe depletion” of ozone was taking place, he said, because “this is among the most severe winters we have seen”. But it was still too soon to say if it would be the worst ever, he counselled.

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