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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d96apr54

Record low levels of stratospheric ozone were recorded in Britain in early March as the cold polar vortex took an unusual excursion from the Arctic. This event was the climax of significant Arctic ozone loss observed this winter beginning in mid-January. The World Meteorological Organization announced that record low readings occurred over much of the Northern Hemisphere, bringing average ozone levels since mid-January to about 10 percent below the long-term (1957-1979) mean. For brief intervals, the ozone deficiency over Greenland, Scandinavia and Western Siberia was as much as 45 percent.

The depletion is believed to result from ozone-destroying chemicals, aggravated by recently colder than normal temperatures in the stratosphere, which encourage the formation of polar stratospheric clouds. Possible causes of these colder temperatures include climate change related to greenhouse gases, and changes in the radiation balance related to the thinning ozone layer.

The new results were announced shortly before a planned meeting in March of research managers for Parties to the Montreal Protocol, and prompted agreement there on the need for more financial support for ozone research and monitoring. The topic will be pursued further at a November meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Vienna Convention, which provides the general framework for the Montreal Protocol on ozone layer protection.

See (all 1996): Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 212-213, Mar. 20 and p. 251, Apr. 3; New Scientist, p. 7 (article) and p. 3 (editorial), Mar. 16 (both emphasizing the need for research and monitoring); and a feature discussion in Global Environ. Change Rep., pp. 1-3, Mar. 22.

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