Unprecedented Arctic Ozone Loss

A NASA-led study has documented an unprecedented depletion of Earth’s protective ozone layer above the Arctic last winter and spring caused by an unusually prolonged period of extremely low temperatures in the stratosphere. The study finds the amount of ozone destroyed in the Arctic in 2011 was comparable to that seen in some years in the Antarctic, where an ozone “hole” has formed each spring since the mid-1980s. The stratospheric ozone layer, extending from about 10 to 20 miles (15 to 35 kilometers) above the surface, protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

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