New ozone hole over Germany poses health risk
23 June 2005, PRAGUE - An unusual ozone hole detected over central Europe this week has prompted health warnings in the Czech Republic and could affect a wider region including Germany through the end of June, meteorologists and climate experts said on Thursday.
23 June 2005
PRAGUE - An unusual ozone hole detected over central Europe this week has prompted health warnings in the Czech Republic and could affect a wider region including Germany through the end of June, meteorologists and climate experts said on Thursday.
Karel Vanicek, chief of the Czech Solar and Ozone Observatory (SOO), blamed the stationary hole of thinned ozone in the atmosphere for high levels of skin-damaging ultraviolet radiation recorded across the region this week.
On Sunday the Czech Republic's UV index reached an all-time record high 8.44, a level considered extremely dangerous for fair-skinned Europeans.
"We have an abnormally attenuated ozone layer over central Europe," Vanicek told Deutsche Presse-Agentur. "As a result we have higher intensities of solar radiation, and now the ultraviolet index has reached its highest level ever recorded."
At midday on Thursday, SOO recorded an 8.0 UV index at its central Czech Republic station. Forecasters expect high UV levels to continue at least through the weekend.
Parts of Germany, Austria and Slovakia were also being affected by the low level of protective ozone.
Daily satellite images from the Dutch climate agency KNMI showed the localized ozone hole had settled this week over much of Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria.
Meanwhile the European Space Agency's atmosphere monitoring agency TEMIS has forecast high UV index levels -- some topping 8.2 -- through June 30 in Berlin, Frankfurt and Vienna.
The Czech government's weather agency CHMU has warned citizens to stay out of the sun for long periods, protect exposed skin with sunblock creams, and wear sunglasses.
According to Vanicek, levels of atmospheric ozone over central Europe have been falling for the past decade. He said the phenomenon is marked by changes in the circulation of air masses about 12 kilometres above ground.
Air masses that used to hover over the Mediterranean Sea and North Africa in the early summer have now shifted north, he said.
"Something has changed in the circulation (of air) in the lower stratosphere," Vanicek said. "During the last decade we have had consistently lower ozone values in the summer."
Vanicek does not think the change was caused by ozone-depleting chemicals, but he did not rule out a possible link to global climate change.
Subject: German news