Brussels, 22 January 2002
An assessment report on European research into the stratosphere, released on 21 January, has concluded that the occurrence of mini ozone holes over Europe is on the increase.
The assessment report focuses on European research into issues such as loss of ozone, increases in ultraviolet radiation and the impact of aircraft on the atmosphere. It covers research work in the EU over the period 1996 to 2000, including the biggest ever EU-supported campaign to study the ozone layer, THESEO (the third European stratospheric experiment on ozone).
The increase in the frequency of ozone 'mini-holes' over Europe is linked in the report to climatic changes and atmospheric circulation in the north Atlantic and Europe. The report also reveals conflicting trends for two of the gases responsible for ozone depletion - bromine, which is on the increase, and chlorine, which is expected to reach pre-ozone hole levels in around 50 years' time. When this level is reached, the report says, full ozone recovery is expected. It says that any ozone recovery could become measurable around 2010.
Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said: 'The assessment studies show once more how important studies such as THESEO are in order to understand ozone loss and the resulting increase in harmful sunlight radiation.' He added that the report highlights the benefits of scientific cooperation in the EU. 'An international campaign like THESEO...clearly demonstrates that a close integration of European and national programmes provides great benefits for science and for carrying forward the EU's policies. When properly organised at a European scale, our research can play a major role in solving environmental problems of a global dimension.'
The report also identifies environmental issues and areas for atmospheric research that will be most relevant for the implementation of the European research area (ERA) and the Sixth Framework programme for research 2002 to 2006 (FP6).
Professor Gérard Mégie, chair of the EU science panel on stratospheric ozone and President of CNRS, France, said: 'The experience of successful pan-European collaboration on atmospheric issues at scientific and research agency levels will prove of great benefit in tackling the ambitious goals set out in ERA and the future Framework programmes. The stratospheric research programme and the THESEO experiment showed the advances in Europe's research capability and the development of a coherent European community of researchers.'
Approval has recently been given to 12 new EU research projects on ozone, UV radiation and aviation impacts, worth a total of 19.4 million euro. The projects will be supported during the coming 2 to 3 years under the key action 'Global change, climate and biodiversity' of the EC's Environment and Sustainable Development programme.
For further information, please contact:
Environment and Sustainable Development programme
or consult the following web address: http://www.ozone-sec.ch.cam.ac.uk