General News: Ozone-layer 'hole' expected above Greece in April

An ozone 'hole' that appeared in the stratosphere above the Arctic this winter is expected to have moved above Greece and to increase levels of UV radiation reaching the ground by mid-April, the president of the International Ozone Commission (IOC) Christos Zerefos said on Monday.

A Greek weather scientist, Zerefos said that the protective ozone layer above the Arctic had been depleted by record 40 percent due to low temperatures at the start of the winter until the end of March. The highest level previously recorded was a 30 percent thinning of the ozone layer.

The atmospheric masses that currently positioned this record-thin layer of ozone above northern Europe, Russia and Alaska were expected to affect Greece in the coming weeks, he added.

"The increased levels of ultra-violet solar radiation measured in the high geographic latitudes are expected to be observed in the next days above Russia and above Alaska. The thinning of the ozone layer is exceptionally great and it is expected that in one or two weeks the aerial masses that will move from the high

latitudes to the low latitudes - including that of Greece - will transport air with much less protective ozone," he stressed.

Zerefos said the phenomenon might be the result of human-generated climate change.

"The extreme situation of the cooling of the lower atmosphere and the thinning of the ozone layer is due chiefly to climatic anomaly that occurred in the higher layers of the atmosphere in the past few months. One part of the climate anomaly may possibly be linked with the emerging human-generated 'greenhouse gas' phenomenon," he added.

He advised the public to take standard precautions against excessive exposure to the sun, even though it was still April, saying that people and especially young children should stay out of the sun between 11:00 and 15:00.

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