Policy: Environment & Energy

Southern ozone hole slightly smaller this year

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Associated Press,Energy and Environment

WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists say warm upper air this September and October helped shrink the man-made ozone hole near the South Pole ever so slightly.

The hole is an area in the atmosphere with low ozone concentrations. It is normally is at its biggest this time of year. NASA says on average it covered 8.1 million square miles this season. That's 6 percent smaller than the average since 1990.

The ozone hole is of concern because high-altitude ozone shields Earth from ultraviolet radiation.

NASA chief atmospheric scientist Paul A. Newman says the main reason for this year's result is local weather. The upper air has been warmer than normal, which led to fewer polar stratospheric clouds. These clouds are where ozone is destroyed by chlorine and bromine, which come from man-made products.

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