The intense cold at the frozen expanse of the Arctic has opened up an unprecedented hole in the ozone layer.
The natural shield is regularly ‘attacked’ at both the north and south poles, but scientists believe exceptional conditions this year have caused the damage to the ozone layer.
The discovery was made by a team of international scientists. They monitored satellite observations between winter 2010 and spring 2011 which showed up the gaping hole, which is five times the size of Germany.
“The ozone layer filters harmful ultraviolet rays, and its depletion may have an impact on the environment in Scandinavia and Russia if it continues. Closer monitoring over the Arctic is necessary,” explained Hideaki Nakajima, a researcher on the team.
How much further monitoring will happen is open to question. The Canadian researchers on the team fear cutbacks could reduce their work.
It is unusual for this to happen in the Arctic which is seen to be warmer than the Antarctic. The discovery of this damage to the ozone layer is worse than that above the south pole, the first time that has happened.