"Arctic Ice Melt" by Harley D. Nygren / Public Domain

Ozone-depleting gases might have driven extreme Arctic warming

Jan 22, 2020

By Giuliana Viglione

Gases that deplete the ozone layer could be responsible for up to half of the effects of climate change observed in the Arctic from 1955 to 2005.

The finding could help to explain the disproportionate toll of climate change on the region, which has long puzzled scientists. The Arctic is warming at more than twice the average rate of the rest of the globe — a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification — and it is losing sea ice at a staggering pace.

Ozone-depleting substances, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), are known to warm the atmosphere thousands of times more efficiently than carbon dioxide. But most of the research on these chemicals has focused on their effects on the planet’s protective ozone layer — especially over the Southern Hemisphere, where they are responsible for the formation of the Antarctic ozone hole, says Mark England, a climate scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. He co-authored the study, published on 20 January in Nature Climate Change1, which he says is “really reframing a lot of the discussion on a more global basis”.

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