Ozone-Eating Clouds Form in Cold Polar Rings

Global warming catalyst for driving ozone-depletion processes over North and South Poles.

Published: 29-Mar-2001

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ozone-eating clouds that erode Earth's protection against ultraviolet radiation are born in thin rings of supercold air over the North and South Poles, scientists reported on Thursday.

The Sun's ultraviolet rays could cause skin cancer in humans and biological damage to other living things if Earth were not shielded by the ozone layer high in the atmosphere. But polar stratospheric clouds made of nitric acid and water deplete this protective layer.

Scientists have known about the clouds for years, but U.S. researchers have just discovered the bands of frigid air in the stratosphere that help to create them, according to an article in the current edition of the journal Science.

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