Is global warming linked with ozone depletion?
New Harvard study shows links between warming, changes in atmospheric chemistry and skin cancer
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with serious global impacts like rising sea levels and increases in weather extremes, global warming may lead to a significantly higher risk for skin cancer, according to a new study published this week in the Journal Science.
Harvard researchers say they’ve discovered a connection between climate change and depletion of the ozone layer over the U.S. that could allow more damaging ultraviolet radiation to reach the Earth’s surface, leading to increased incidence of skin cancer.
The increase in UV radiation could also affect other species, including vitally important crops like wheat, that could also be susceptible to genetic damage.
In the system described by Anderson and his team, water vapor injected into the stratosphere by powerful thunderstorms converts stable forms of chlorine and bromine into free radicals capable of transforming ozone molecules into oxygen.
Recent studies have suggested that the number and intensity of such storms are linked to climate changes, Anderson said, which could in turn lead to increased ozone loss and greater levels of harmful UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, and potentially higher rates of skin cancer.
“If you were to ask me where this fits into the spectrum of things I worry about, right now it’s at the top of the list,” Anderson said. “What this research does is connect, for the first time, climate change with ozone depletion, and ozone loss is directly tied to increases in skin cancer incidence, because more ultraviolet radiation is penetrating the atmosphere.”
posted by peter petterson @ 3:28 AM