The Earth is threatened by ozone holes in the upper atmosphere that let in too many ultraviolet rays from the sun. One cause of the holes are ozone-eating clouds, made up of nitric acid and water, that are created by supercold air over the North and South Poles.
Scientists have long known about these clouds, but have just discovered the bands of frigid air in the stratosphere that help to create them. And as the Earth warms up, the stratosphere gets colder, making it an even better place to create ozone-eating clouds.
When more of these clouds are created, it?s harder for ozone holes to heal. Excess ozone causes skin cancer and suppresses the immune system. Man-made chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) have been a major cause of ozone holes, but since they?ve been banned, the holes should be getting smaller. But since the climate is warming, leading to an increase in ozone-eating clouds, this happening more slowly than scientists had hoped.
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