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Where Has All The Ozone Gone? - Windows to the Universe

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A dark deep freeze engulfs the C-130 research plane on the runway at Churchill, Manitoba, in February 2000.
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Photo courtesy of the National Center for Atmospheric Research/UCAR/NSF

Where Has All The Ozone Gone?
News story originally written on February 27, 2001

You may have heard of the Ozone Hole. The Ozone Hole is a region of the atmosphere above Antarctica where there are really low concentrations of ozone. This depletion is found in the stratosphere level of the atmosphere. Lower ozone concentrations in the stratosphere means higher UV levels at the surface of the Earth. Increased UV rays can be harmful to people and other life such as plants!

A study last spring done by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) had a plane fly really low over Hudson Bay, Baffin Bay, and parts of the Arctic Ocean. These areas are in the northern hemisphere - really far away from Antarctica. Measurements taken from the plane showed that there are low ozone levels in the troposphere around those regions. Usually, we think of stratospheric ozone as a good thing and tropospheric ozone as a pollutant. So, less ozone near the surface could actually be a good thing.

Scientists do not see these low ozone levels around the Arctic as a threat, but they do point to how much we still don't know about the atmosphere!

This study was part of the TOPSE experiment (Tropospheric Ozone Production about the Spring Equinox) led by NCAR which is managed by UCAR (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research).

Last modified February 21, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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