Ozone Depletion Sets Record
News story originally written on October 14, 1998

The ozone hole over the Antartic is the largest it has been since it was discovered in the 1980's. Scientists used the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) and the Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet Instrument (SBUV) to measure the ozone levels.

"This is the largest Antartic ozone hole we've ever observed, and it's nearly the deepest," said Dr. Richard McPeters, Principal Investigator for TOMS.

Ozone protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation that is part of sunlight. UV rays are what cause sunburns. They also can cause skin cancer and damage crops and marine life.

Scientists don't believe that the record-setting trend will continue. They attribute the greater ozone loss to stratospheric temperatures that were colder than normal. It is still a problem, though, because people who live near the Antartic may be exposed to greater levels of ultraviolet radiation. Also, the hole will eventually spread out and dilute ozone levels throughout the southern hemisphere.

Ozone is measured in Dobson units; the average concentration is 300 Dobson units. 300 Dobson units corresponds to 3 millimeters, which is how thick the ozone layer would be if it were compressed to sea level pressure.
Last modified April 24, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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