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U.S., Soviets to study Antarctic ozone.

U.S., Soviets to study Antarctic ozone

In an agreement announced last week,U.S. and Soviet scientists plant to collaborate in an investigation of the seasonal thinning of Antarctic ozone.

The agreement calls for the UnitedStates to provide 50 packages of ozone-monitoring equipment and ballons, which the Soviets will fly above their Molodezhnaya station on the Indian Ocean side of Antarctica. The Soviets will exchange data from these flights with the United States, which will, in turn, supply the Soviets with daily ozone profiles measured by Satellites.

"We will have much more information -- justthe basic observations of the distribution of ozone over Antarctica as a function of space and time -- than we've ever had before," says James Peterson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Air Resources Lab in Boulder, Colo., who was the senior U.S. official involved in the negotiations.

Currently, one British and two Americanstations in Antarctica take balloon soundings of the ozone levels. By combining the verticle profiles from balloons with spatial information from satellites, scientists can obtain a detailed, three-dimensional picture of the ozone distribution, says Peterson.

Scientists are concerned about thestratospheric ozone depletions, which appear over Antarctica in September (SN: 5/23/87, p.326) and over the North Pole in February (SN: 10/4/86, p.215), because the ozone layer is needed to filter out harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Some fear that these holes signal a worldwide drop in ozone levels, possibly caused by chlorofluorocarbons, a class of chemicals used chiefly in refrigerants and aerosols.

The two superpowers also discussedplans for a scientific meeting next year in the Soviet Union concerning computer modeling of ozone and other trace gases.
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Author:Monastersky, Richard
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 27, 1987
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