Drifting hole in ozone layer set to expose Germans to skin damage
The hole in the ozone layer above the Arctic is drifting, putting Germany and other parts of Central Europe at risk from harmful UV radiation in the coming weeks, experts say.
The gap itself has already shifted to expose parts of Denmark, but according to experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven it is set to move further south in the coming weeks, extending as far as the Mediterranean Sea.
A depleted ozone layer allows more harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays than usual to reach the earth's surface, increasing the risk of sunburn and causing long-term damage that could lead to skin cancer.
With the expected intensity of the rays akin to that of high summer, those more sensitive to the sun could burn within minutes.
“The real problem is that most people don’t think they can get sunburnt so early in the year,” said Markus Rex of the Alfred Wegener Institute.
The destruction of the ozone layer has this year reached record levels, according to data released earlier this week by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in Geneva.
The sudden surge has surprised experts, as tests had indicated that the hole would shrink by around 40 percent between the end of winter and the end of March due to an extremely cold winter in the stratosphere.
According to data from the AWI, the past two weeks have seen the stronger UV rays hitting the earth between the North Pole and Scandinavia, and they are set to reach Russia in the coming days.