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Antarctic Ozone Hole Leveling Off 353

twistedfuck writes: "An Irish Time article reports that the size of the hole in the antartican ozone layer is levelling off and should begin reducing in size. It seems like it should be welcome news but it is tempered by the fact that more UV radiation will reach the southern hemisphere this year because the hole will persist longer. Unfortunately I can not find any details regarding the NOAA report on their website." Update: 11/06 17:31 GMT by H :Thanks to Isaac Lewis, NOAA Sysadmin and Slashdot reader, for pointing out more information, as well as pointing out the ozonelayer site.
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Antarctic Ozone Hole Leveling Off

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  • Size will decline? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Man of E ( 531031 ) <> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @02:59AM (#2526506)
    I don't know much about ozone and such, but why would the size of the hole start to decline? Are we producing additional ozone that could somehow refill the hole? Is the remainder of the ozone layer spreading out to fill the gap?
    Are there any meteorologists/ecologists out there who know how this works?
  • Mother Nature (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rockwood ( 141675 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:00AM (#2526509) Homepage Journal
    IMHO Mother Nature takes care of herself. Fires to clean the earth, wind to sweep away the garbage, seasons to refresh the vibrance of life and so forth...

    This article suggests that though the total mass of the hole is reducing in size, it is also maintaining itself for longer periods. Without research, an immediate assumption would suggest that this would be letting the same doses of UV rays reach the earth annually.

    I'd say Mother Nature is attemtping to counteract our efforts and regulate the earth the way she has done for millions of years!

    And given our (human) track record.. I'd give 1000:1 odds in favor of Mother Nature doing the right thing.
  • by cats-paw ( 34890 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:03AM (#2526515) Homepage
    I was just looking into this not too long ago. Strangely enough, we met someone from Israel while we were travelling in New Zealand who said it had closed, which I was sure was wrong. Turns out it's still there.

    And remember it's not really a hole, i.e. there is ozone present, it's just at significantly lower levels.

    Here are a couple of sites I found useful :

    When we were in New Zealand the sun feels different ! It feels very intense and somewhat uncomfortable, and it was only the first month of spring. You HAVE to use sunscreen.
  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:13AM (#2526529) Journal
    The problem with environmental theories is that they are just that...theories.

    Much like chemistry of 50 or 100 years ago in many ways would seem laughable to what we know now (and will again in 50 years probably), the science of the environment is a young and new science. Unlike chemistry or physics, it's much harder to do experiments, and the timescales involved are immense.

    The truth is we simply know too little about the Earth to make longterm models and whatnot that are dead on. We can make GUESSES, and maybe even good guesses, but there is still so much that we don't know at this point.

    As a side note-it is my understanding that CO2 levels during the time of the dinosaurs were much higher than they are today. The Earth can handle huge changes with relatively little environmental impact. It's been around (what? 5 billion years?) a long time, I don't think humanity can destroy it in a little over two century.

  • by H0NGK0NGPH00EY ( 210370 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:32AM (#2526567) Homepage
    More info on the same subject [].

    Every time I hear someone talk about the ozone hole that we (humans) are creating, I have a little laugh to myself. I mean, seriously... Human beings populate such an insanely small percentage of the Earth's surface (I mean, far less than half is even land anyway), how can you believe that we could really have such an immediate (read: 80 years) impact on something like the global climate? Come on, I think that's getting just a little bit of a big head... We wish we could control the weather...

  • by legoboy ( 39651 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:10AM (#2526632)
    No, but it is what the preponderance of the evidence suggests.

    a) Upon seeing problems, we've heavily cut back on all sorts of emissions under the belief that it will fix the problem.
    b) Results of a) (above) will take sixty more years to manifest.
    c) Problem is disappearing long before results of a) are known.

    Therefore, perhaps a) was a faulty assumption that costs businesses billions annually, and the ozone hole is really just a cyclical thing?

    That said, lower emissions are good, if only for two reasons - one, so that whilst canoeing the Indian Arm of the Fraser River, I don't know that Vancouver is (that way) due to the brown sky. Two, because they *do* seem to be responsible for all sorts of human respiratory problems. You know, if environmentalists weren't all a bunch of crackpots who use pseudoscience to justify whatever their jihad of the day is, I'd probably identify myself as one.

    PS - The ICE at the NORTH POLE is MELTING!!! Oh NO!!! ... Oh wait, that happens all the time?
  • Strange (Score:3, Interesting)

    by socceroo ( 202491 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:47AM (#2526687)
    I live in Melbourne. If you look at the piccies of the hole, you'll see it nowhere near approaches Melbourne.

    I have to use sunscreen when I go outside. I've got fair complexion and I burn up in the sun. Yet when I visit Sydney, I can spend 2 hours in the sun without as much getting a lick from sunburn.

    You have to wonder what the situation is like in Hobart or Antartica.
  • Actually (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:49AM (#2526690)
    From what I understand, CFC's are no worse than the chemicals that replaced them. As I understand it, Some company had a patent on the substance used as a delivery mechanism in aerosol sprays... but their patent was about to run out on one of their most widespread chemical products, losing them lots of money.

    So, what would anybody who knows they can buy off the people with a nice environmental scare do?

    They spread a massive chunk of propaganda and toss out some lobbyists. Meanwhile, they develop a product that is almost identical to the original, and just as bad for the environment (reactively).

    So, now nothing has changed for the good or bad of the environment, but that company got to remain the exclusive source of chemicals for spray cans.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:55AM (#2526699)
    Simple reason....

    Take a look at a map of the Arctic and the Antarctic, they are in fact almost exact opposites. The Arctic is a almost circular sea surrounded (almost) by land, roughly centred on the pole. The Antarctic is a high, near circular continent, roughly centred on the pole, surrounded by sea.

    The main effect of this difference is that the Antarctic geography allows a stable polar vortex, which isolates the Antarctic atmosphere during the polar winter, allowing the upper atmosphere in particular to become very cold. The nastiness in the Ozone equilibria happens during the spring when this extremely cold upper atmosphere is irradiated by the sun.

    The Arctic has a much weaker polar vortex, and hence, although ozone depletion is seen, it is much weaker.
  • by dido ( 9125 ) <`dido' `at' `'> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @06:20AM (#2526796)

    I believe there's a meteorological phenomenon called the polar vortex that causes the ozone hole to occur at the South Pole and during Antarctic summer. See this link [] for more details. Short version is, during polar night there's a huge whirlpool of cold air that circulates there all night causing the CFC's we've emitted to more rapidly destroy the ozone in the region. By summer, the vortex stops, so the ozone hole disperses. There's also a vortex in the North Pole, but because there are a lot of irregular land masses there, the vortex up north is a lot weaker, hence the ozone hole up north is far smaller. But global warming is causing the northern vortex to strengthen, and hence increase the size of the hole up north.

    This is what I get for watching too much Discovery Channel!

  • Re:Press Release (Score:2, Interesting)

    by buglord ( 455997 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @07:26AM (#2526887)

    I read a nice article (not sure if was on slashdot), that banning chlorine will be more damagin in the long run.

    Because chlorine is an industrial by-product of many different chemical processes, it has to get gotten rid of somehow. Thus chlorine gas in warfare, cfc's in spray cans, pvc plastics - it's cheap!

    So now the chlorine has to get bound in other materials and will pose an environmental threat some hundreds pf years later.

    Maybe we should take a look at the processes having chlorine as a waste product and try and do them more environmentally-friendly
  • by LMariachi ( 86077 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @11:39AM (#2527479) Journal
    The problem with environmental theories is that they are just that...theories.

    Funny, that's exactly what creationists say about evolution. To quote Stephen J. Gould:

    In the American vernacular, "theory" often means "imperfect fact" - part of a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to theory to hypothesis to guess. Thus the power of the creationist argument: evolution is "only" a theory and intense debate now rages about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is worse than a fact, and scientists can't even make up their minds about the theory, then what confidence can we have in it? Indeed, President Reagan echoed this argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said (in what I devoutly hope was campaign rhetoric): "Well, it is a theory. It is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science - that is, not believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was."

    Well evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don't go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's in this century, but apples didn't suspend themselves in midair, pending the outcome.

    The problem has nothing to do with the "theoryness" of environmental science, it has to do with the relative dearth of data with which to develop theories. In any case, as far as practical approaches, erring on the side of caution would be a prudent one. No factories are going broke because they had to install scrubbers in their smokestacks, just as loggers weren't losing their jobs because of the spotted owl. The picture of onerous environmental regulations as an unbearable crippling burden is a smokescreen thrown up by industry.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson