03 Oct 2011:
Arctic Ozone Hole
Is Largest Ever Recorded
Scientists say a hole in the Arctic’s protective ozone layer last winter was the largest ever recorded
, reaching an extent typically observed above Antarctica. While so-called ozone “holes” have occurred each summer since the mid-1980s over Antarctica — where extreme cold and powerful wind patterns trigger reactions that convert chlorine from human-produced chemicals into ozone-destroying compunds — warmer stratospheric temperatures in the Arctic have typically limited ozone loss. According to a new study, published in the journal Nature
, unusually low stratospheric temperatures and powerful high-altitude wind patterns above the Arctic earlier this year created the conditions for an unprecedented ozone hole
over northern Russia and parts of Norway and Greenland, exposing populations across the region to high levels of ultraviolet radiation. “Arctic ozone loss events such as those observed this year could become more frequent if winter Arctic stratospheric temperatures decrease in future as the Earth’s climate changes,” said Kaley Walker, a University of Toronto physicist who participated in the study.
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Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.