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South Pole’s Ozone Hole Smallest on Record Since 1980s

Normally, the ozone hole grows to a maximum area of about 8 million square miles around late September to early October

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NASA reported the hole in Earth’s protective ozone layer averaged only 3.6 million square miles. Pixabay

The South Pole’s ozone hole is currently the smallest on record since it was first detected in the 1980s, according to NASA.

NASA reported the hole in Earth’s protective ozone layer averaged only 3.6 million square miles. Normally, the ozone hole grows to a maximum area of about 8 million square miles around late September to early October.

“That’s really good news,” NASA scientist Paul Newman said. “That means more ozone over the hemisphere, less ultraviolet radiation at the surface.”

Ozone in the stratosphere absorbs some of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet radiation can cause skin cancer, cataracts, suppress immune systems and damage plants.

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NASA reported the hole in Earth’s protective ozone layer averaged only 3.6 million square miles. Pixabay

However, NASA scientists said the shrinking ozone hole is most likely from weather changes, not recent efforts to cut pollution.

“It’s important to recognize that what we’re seeing this year is due to warmer stratospheric temperatures,” Newman said. “It’s not a sign that atmospheric ozone is suddenly on a fast track to recovery.”

Chlorine in the air needs cold temperatures in the stratosphere and clouds to convert into a form of the chemical that eats ozone, Newman said. The clouds go away when it warms up.

This year temperatures were 29 degrees warmer than average right below the stratosphere.

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Man-made chlorine compounds, which can last in the air for 100 years, damage the ozone, creating a gap. The effects are most evident over the Antarctic, “because of the special atmospheric and chemical conditions that exist there and nowhere else on the globe,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The 1987 international Montreal Protocol banned many of the chlorine compounds used in refrigerants and aerosols, like hairspray, to lessen the damage. Since then, the size of the ozone hole has slowly declined but remains large enough to produce significant ozone loss.

Scientists project the Antarctic ozone to recover back to its 1980 level around 2070.

The hole reaches its peak in September and October and disappears by late December until the next year. (VOA)

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ESA Observes Strong Reduction in Ozone Concentrations Over Arctic

Satellite Indicates 'Mini-Hole' in Arctic Ozone Layer

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European Space Agency (ESA) satellite say they have observed a strong reduction in ozone concentrations over the Arctic. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Scientists studying data from a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite say they have observed a strong reduction in ozone concentrations over the Arctic, creating what they are calling a “mini-hole” in the ozone layer.

The ozone layer is a natural, protective layer of gas in the stratosphere that shields life from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, often associated with skin cancer and cataracts, as well as other environmental issues.

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This image made available by NASA shows a map of a hole in the ozone layer over Arctic region. VOA

The “ozone hole” most often referenced is over Antarctica, forming each year. But observations scientists made at the German Aerospace Center in the last week indicate ozone depletion over northern polar regions as well.

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The scientists refer to the Arctic depletion zone as a “mini-hole” because it has a maximum extension of less than a million square kilometers, which is tiny compared with the 20 million- to 25 million-square-kilometer hole that forms over the Antarctic.

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ESA released an animation using data from its satellite showing daily ozone levels over the Arctic from March 9 to April 1. Scientists say unusual atmospheric conditions, including freezing temperatures in the stratosphere, led ozone levels to drop in the region. (VOA)

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Microsoft Registers New Daily Record of 2.7 Billion Meeting Minutes on March 31

Microsoft Stream is the service that powers live events and meeting recordings in Teams

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Microsoft found people in Norway and the Netherlands turn on video most, with about 60 per cent of calls including video. Pixabay

As the salary day progressed amid COVID-19 lockdowns, Microsoft registered a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in a single day on March 31 — 200 per cent increase from 900 million on March 16, the company announced on Thursday.

As students and teachers turn to Teams for distance learning, there are 183,000 tenants in 175 countries using Teams for Education, said Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365.

“As the world works remotely, it is no surprise people are turning on video in Teams meetings two times more than before many of us began working from home full-time. We’ve also seen total video calls in Teams grow by over 1,000 percent in the month of March,” Spataro informed.

Microsoft found people in Norway and the Netherlands turn on video most, with about 60 per cent of calls including video. “People in Australia use video in meetings 57 per cent of the time, Italy 53 per cent, Chile 52 per cent, Switzerland 51 per cent, and Spain 49 per cent. People in the UK, Canada, and Sweden use video 47 per cent of the time and people in Mexico and the US use it 41 per cent and 38 per cent respectively,” the company said.

People in India use video in 22 per cent of meetings, Singapore 26 per cent, South Africa 36 per cent, France 37 per cent, and Japan 39 per cent. “This may be attributed in part to less access to devices and stable internet in some regions such as India and South Africa,” said Spataro.

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As the salary day progressed amid COVID-19 lockdowns, Microsoft registered a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in a single day on March 31 — 200 per cent increase from 900 million on March 16, the company announced on Thursday. Pixabay

From March 1-March 31, the average time between a person’s first use of Teams and last use of Teams each day increased by over one hour. The number of weekly Teams mobile users grew more than 300 per cent from early February to March 31.

“We’ve seen large increases in usage of Teams on mobile devices from customers in higher education and primary and secondary education (K-12). We’ve also seen a notable increase from customers in government-related industries,” said Spataro.

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Microsoft Stream is the service that powers live events and meeting recordings in Teams.

“As a result of customers moving events online, the number of Stream videos in Teams per week has increased over five times in the last month with hundreds of hours of video uploaded per minute,” the executive said. (IANS)

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Exposure to Ground Level Ozone Increases Risk of Death

Daily exposure to ozone pollution ups mortality risk

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Researchers have found that daily exposure to ground level ozone in cities worldwide is associated with an increased risk of death. Pixabay

Researchers have found that daily exposure to ground level ozone in cities worldwide is associated with an increased risk of death. This is the latest health news.

Ground level ozone is a highly reactive gas commonly found in urban and suburban environments, formed when pollutants react in sunlight.

The findings, published in the journal The BMJ, based on data from over 400 cities in 20 countries across the world – show that more than 6,000 deaths each year would have been avoided in the selected cities if countries had implemented stricter air quality standards.

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What’s more, smaller but still substantial mortality impacts were found even for ozone concentrations below WHO guideline levels. Pixabay

“These findings have important implications for the design of future public health actions; particularly, for example, in relation to the implementation of mitigation strategies to reduce the impacts of climate change,” said researchers from University of Bern in Switzerland.

Current air quality thresholds (in micrograms per cubic meter of ambient air) range from 100 µg/m3 (WHO), 120 µg/m3 (European Union directive), 140 µg/m3 (US National Ambient Air Quality Standard), and 160 µg/m3 (Chinese Ambient Air Quality Standard).

Recent reviews suggest that 80 per cent of the world’s population in urban areas are exposed to air pollution levels above the WHO threshold.

Most previous studies have found positive associations between ground level ozone and mortality, but differences in study design and quality make it difficult to draw consistent conclusions across different regions.

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Ground level ozone is a highly reactive gas commonly found in urban and suburban environments, formed when pollutants react in sunlight. Pixabay

To try and address this, an international research team has analysed deaths and environmental measures (weather and air pollutants) in 406 cities of 20 countries, with overlapping periods between 1985 and 2015.

Using data from the Multi-City Multi-Country Collaborative Research Network, they derived daily average ozone levels (above a maximum background level of 70 µg/m3), particulate matter, temperature, and relative humidity at each location to estimate the daily number of extra deaths attributable to ozone. A total of 45,165,171 deaths were analysed in the 406 cities. On average, a 10 µg/m3 increase in ozone during the current and previous day was associated with a 0.18 per cent increased risk of death, suggesting evidence of a potential direct association.

This equates to 6,262 extra deaths each year (or 0.2 per cent of total mortality) in the 406 cities that could potentially have been avoided if countries had implemented stricter air quality standards in line with the WHO guideline.

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What’s more, smaller but still substantial mortality impacts were found even for ozone concentrations below WHO guideline levels, supporting the WHO initiative of encouraging countries to revisit the current air quality guidelines and enforcing stronger emission restrictions to meet these recommendations, say the researchers. (IANS)