时间:2019-10-15 10:01:54 来源:文都网校 分享:



  The ozone hole that opens every year over the Antarctic is on course to be the smallest in threedecades, scientists have said.


  Researchers say the hole is also a particularly unusual shape this year, being heavily skewedtowards South America instead of centring on the South Pole.


  The rare shape – never before observed – indicates a significant distortion to the usual polarvortex, which maintains low temperatures in the stratosphere.


  The hole is currently well under half the area that usually opens up by mid-September, andmay have already reached its maximum size, a little smaller in area than the Antarcticcontinent.


  Ozone is a gas formed in the upper atmosphere when electrical charges in the atmospherecombine with ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. The ozone layer absorbs the majority of thesun's harmful UV radiation.


  The hole disappears and reforms every year over the Antarctic due to the unique weatherpatterns that create incredibly cold circling winds above the pole.


  According to the British Antarctic Survey, the hole had reached an area of 11 million squarekilometres in early September, when the annual "spring warming" event kicked in much earlierthan usual.


  In 2018, the hole reached a maximum area of 22.9 million square kilometres.


  In 2002, the polar vortex split in two, creating two separate ozone holes over the continent.


  Anna Jones a scientist at the British Antarctic Survey told The Independent the shape of thehole this year was "very unusual".


  She said: "Very occasionally in the Antarctic you will get disturbances. And I don't thinkanybody knows what's triggered it this year. This is a pretty new phenomenon. It could be amultiple collection of factors."


  Satellite records for the polar vortex in Antarctica go back to the late 1970s, but the 2002 splitvortex is the only other major change.


  "Scientists haven't quite figured it out yet ... there are various things they can look at, but it'scertainly very unusual," Dr Jones said.


  Explaining how the polar vortex normally works, she said: "Over Antarctica you have a verystrong westerly wind system which sets up over the winter. You get very cold temperaturesover the Antarctic continent and the winds are very fast, which holds it in place."


  "The winds are driven by the temperature difference between equatorial temperatures andpolar temperatures. This is what you expect over the Antarctic."


  "In Antarctica you have a continent surrounded by a flat ocean. You don't have a lot of stuff atground level, so the air can flow around without anything getting in its way."


  "In the Arctic, it's the opposite. You have an ocean surrounded by landmasses with mountains. So you don't get the strength of the vortex you get in the Antarctic. "


  Dr Jones said the key to reducing the size of the ozone hole in the long term was continuing toclampdown on the illegal man-made chemicals causing the destruction. She also warnedpeople living in South America could now be at risk from dangerous UV radiation as the ozonehas thinned.


  "The key thing is that the gases that destroy ozone are still around, still in the atmosphere," she said.


  But a warming planet due to climate change is also bad news for the ozone layer. Higheratmospheric temperatures could also degrade the conditions required to restore the ozonelayer.


  "If we warm the lower levels of the atmosphere, we actually cool the stratosphere," Dr Jonessaid. "This could extend the lifetime of the ozone hole."


  She added: "This is an unusual feature resulting from unusual dynamics, but the chemistrywhich destroys ozone is still there.


  "I doubt we will see this again next year. We can't be complacent, it absolutely doesn't meanthe ozone hole is never going to be seen again."


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