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Name: Melissa
Status: Student
Grade: 6-8
Location: FL
Country: United States
Date: October 2006


Question:
Why is the ozone layer thinning over Antarctica, where the population and pollution is less than other places?



Replies:
The opportunity for creating ozone is related to the intensity of the solar radiation. The layer of the atmosphere in which the ozone forms receives a direct strike form the sun's radiation near the equator. It is only a glancing blow near the poles.

Larry Krengel


Melissa,

The meteorology over Antarctica is unique. During the Southern Hemisphere Spring (September-November) a very stationary and stable weather pattern forms over Antarctica, much like a large high pressure system might form and persist in the central part of the United States in Summer (but for months instead of days).

This weather pattern prevents air from escaping from Antarctica, and also prevents dilution by air from areas outside of Antarctica. CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) that have built up in the Stratosphere over the past century have an extended period of time to react with and destroy many ozone molecules (possibly as many as 10,000 ozone molecules can be destroyed by one CFC molecule). Furthermore, ice particles that also persist during this unusual weather pattern apparently enhance this ozone destroying process.

David R. Cook
Meteorologist
Climate Research Section
Environmental Science Division
Argonne National Laboratory



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