The Thinning Ozone

A dramatic thinning of Earth’s protective ozone layer above the Arctic last year was the result of intense upper-level winds and an extra dose of space weather, scientists said Tuesday.

Ozone, which screens out some of the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, declined by up to 60 percent in the stratosphere over high northern latitudes in the spring of 2004. Officials issued a health warning earlier this year for residents of the far North.

In a new study, scientists conclude that an intense round of solar storms around Halloween in 2003 was at the root of the problem. Charged particles from the storms triggered chemical reactions that increased the formation of extra nitrogen in the upper stratosphere, some 20 miles up. Nitrogen levels climbed to their highest in at least two decades.

A massive low-pressure system that confines air over the Arctic then conspired to deplete ozone.

Wasn’t someone just trying to tell us it was all because of greenhouse gases?