A scientist claims to have discovered a ‘huge’ ozone hole that he says has been present for over 30 years.
Seven times larger than the Antarctic ozone hole, this newly-discovered gap in the ozone layer is open year-round and stretches across almost all of the tropical region, according to a new study.
In contrast, the gap identified in the earth’s atmosphere over the Antarctic only opens up come spring, while this one is open all seasons and is so large it’s thought it could impact half of the world’s population.
Professor Qing-Bin Lu, a scientist from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, conducted the new research and said the hole could cause ‘global concern’.
He told the Independent: “Unlike the Antarctic ozone hole that only appears in the spring season, the tropical ozone hole appears in all seasons since the 1980s, and its area is roughly seven times greater.
“[It] could cause global concern as it can cause increases in ground-level UV radiation and associated risks of skin cancer and cataracts, and other negative effects on health and ecosystems in tropical regions.”
Professor Lu also told the paper that ‘preliminary reports showing that ozone depletion levels over equatorial regions are already endangering large populations therein, and the associated UV radiation reaching the regions was far greater than expected’.
He added that while it sounds ‘unbelievable’ that the tropical ozone hole had not previously been spotted, ‘intrinsic challenges’ made its discovery difficult.
“First, no tropical ozone hole was expected to exist from the mainstream photochemical theory. Second, unlike the Antarctic/Arctic ozone holes that are seasonal and mainly appear in spring, the tropical ozone hole is essentially unchanged across the seasons and is therefore invisible in original observed data,” Professor Lu explained.
However, since Professor Lu’s research was published earlier this week, members of the scientific community have expressed their concern over his findings, with some claiming it contains ‘serious errors’.
According to Forbes, Dr. Marta Abalos Alvarez from the Complutense University of Madrid said: “It contains a lot of reasoning with serious errors and unsubstantiated assertions, contradicting previous results that are substantiated.
“Ozone depletion in the tropics is nothing new and is mainly due to the acceleration of the Brewer-Dobson circulation.”
Lancaster University’s Dr. Paul Young added: “The author’s identification of a ‘tropical ozone hole’ is down to him looking at percentage changes in ozone, rather than absolute changes, with the latter being much more relevant for damaging UV reaching the surface.”