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Ozone hole updates.

Ozone hole updates

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced last week that the second ground-based National Ozone Expedition (NOZE II) has corroborated NASA's earlier airborne and satellite results (SN: 10/10/87, p.230). This, says NSF, strengthens the conclusions of last year's NOZE team that human-made chlorofluorocarbons are implicated in the thinning of stratospheric ozone over Antarctica each spring.

One new measurement taken this year used lidar (laser radar) to count the aerosols that attract polar stratospheric-cloud formation. Scientists believe these clouds play a crucial role in ozone depletion by providing the surfaces necessary for reactions, which liberate ozone-attacking compounds. "What was really remarkable is that the polar stratospheric clouds were an omnipresent feature,' says NOZE team leader Susan Solomon, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo. "There seem to be an awful lot of particles down there--by far, more than we expected.' A main focus of NOZE III will be to study the composition, distribution and chemistry of the aerosols in detail.

Also last week, Peter E. Wilkniss, director of the NSF's division of polar programs, told the Senate Environment and Public Works committee that plans are underway that would give ships and planes safe year-round access to Antarctica--in part so that researchers can study the onset of the hole as early as July. He also indicated that in the spring the depletion of ultraviolet-absorbing ozone has been so great that he is concerned for the safety of workers in Antarctica. Solomon agrees there is a need for concern. But "a bigger questions,' she says, "may be what the effects are on the Antarctic ecosystem.' To help address this question, researchers at Palmer Station, Antarctica, have begun the first quantitative assessment of the effects of ultraviolet radiation on phytoplankton.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 7, 1987
Words:294
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