Researchers must have discovered an ozone hole in the tropics

Canadian study
A research team claims to have discovered a large ozone hole in the tropics

Canadian researchers are talking about a third ozone hole in addition to the two previously known ozone holes at the poles. But their results are controversial.

© Klaus-Dieter Esser / Picture Alliance

Canadian scientists write that there is a giant ozone hole over the tropics. But colleagues have serious doubts.

So far, we have known that the ozone hole occurs every year, mainly from the Antarctic, and more recently from the North Pole. But reports that the ozone layer has thinned significantly over the tropics caused global astonishment — and consternation — this Tuesday. The ozone layer in the atmosphere is important for absorbing harmful UV radiation from the sun. UV radiation is thought to cause skin cancer and other diseases.

Worrying news comes from a research group in Canada: Professor Qing-Bin Lu from the University of Waterloo in Ontario and his colleagues report in the journal “AIP Advances“From the previously undiscovered ozone hole, located in the tropics and seven times larger than Antarctica. It has been there since the 1980s, but was not detected until now.

In the 1980s, there was a global debate about the damage to the ozone layer and possible measures to combat it. As a result, the Montreal Protocol was passed in September 1987, requiring countries around the world to ban ozone-depleting chemicals, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), previously used as refrigerants or in aerosol cans. These efforts now offer hope that ozone holes will not appear at the poles in a few decades.

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Canadians write about a massive ozone hole in the tropics

But now there must be a gigantic ozone hole in the tropics? Qing-bin Lu writes about the existence of a perennial zone of depleted ozone in the lower tropical stratosphere. What’s particularly dangerous, according to a group of scientists, is that the region is home to half of the world’s population. People in countries around the equator are exposed to the risk of increased UV radiation.

The Canadian professor points to the potential importance of ozone holes at the poles and in the tropics for climate change, as these holes played a role in regulating Earth’s temperature.

The ozone hole around the equator is likely caused by the same mechanisms as at the poles – harmful CFCs. After they were banned, this effect subsided, but improvements in the condition of the Poles have recently been seen again and again. However, the ozone layer can also be damaged by large forest fires.

The alleged discovery of a “third hole in the ozone layer” has been contested

However, the Canadian research team immediately received objections from experts: many experts who were not involved in the investigation doubted the existence of this large ozone hole in the tropics. Martin Chipperfield, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of Leeds, said: “I am surprised that this study has been published in its current form. He doubts that any other study has seen these massive changes in the ozone layer in the tropics. The results of the new study from Canada are very controversial and he says they are “correct”. Don’t believe it,” says Chipperfield.

Another scientist critical of the Canadians’ method: Lancaster University’s Paul Young, said Qing-bin Lu and his team studied percentage changes in ozone levels in the atmosphere. However, complete changes are appropriate. He came to a clear conclusion: this ozone hole over the tropics simply does not exist.

proof’s: “AIP Advances“,”ZME Science“,”Daily Mail“, Knowledge of MDR,”stable“,”Newsweek

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