Ozone Layer Could Develop Hole over Britain, Scientists Warn ; Destruction of Protective Gas Means Greater Risk of Skin Cancer and Cataracts
Lean, Geoffrey, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Scientists will tomorrow fly a spy plane high into the world's protective ozone layer, amid increasing fears that it may be about to develop a hole over Britain and northern Europe.
The old Russian Cold War plane will take off from near Munich in a EU- funded mission to check reports that the stratosphere over the northern hemisphere faces rapid ozone destruction over the next few weeks. If the hole developed, people living under it would be at increased risk of skin cancer and cataracts, the main cause of blindness.
The danger - which will also be assessed by scientists meeting in Zurich this week - has been provoked by the coldest winter on record about 12 miles above the Arctic, setting up ideal conditions for the destruction of the ozone layer. It is linked with global warming - as the atmosphere nearer the Earth warms, the stratosphere cools.
The ozone layer - a scattering of the blue-tinged gas through the 21- mile deep stratosphere which is so thin that if collected together it would form a girdle round the Earth no thicker than the sole of a shoe - screens out harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Without it, no terrestrial life would be possible. But, as it is weakened from being attacked by CFCs and other ozone-destroying pollutants, more radiation gets though to cause skin cancer and cataracts, damage crops and kill the plankton that are the basis of marine life.
For over 20 years, a hole as big as the US and as high as Mount Everest has opened up over Antarctica every southern spring. But, since the continent is almost entirely uninhabited, the hole has posed little danger to human health - though skin cancer rates in southern Chile, the only populated area under the hole, are …
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Publication information: Article title: Ozone Layer Could Develop Hole over Britain, Scientists Warn ; Destruction of Protective Gas Means Greater Risk of Skin Cancer and Cataracts. Contributors: Lean, Geoffrey - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent on Sunday (London, England). Publication date: March 6, 2005. Page number: 14. © 2009 The Independent on Sunday. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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