Antarctic ozone hole is worst ever recorded UN reports

“This year’s hole was caused by the continuing presence of peak levels of ozone destroying substances in the atmosphere combined with a particularly cold stratospheric winter,” the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said of the phenomenon, which appears annually at the start of the southern hemisphere spring.Large holes over the Antarctic are expected to reoccur over the next two decades before a clear decline in size and depth, and the Montreal Protocol and Vienna Convention phasing out ozone-destroying chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons must be adhered to with the utmost vigilance, WMO spokesman Mark Oliver told a news briefing in Geneva.The agency based its assessments on measurements taken by satellites of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European Space Agency (ESA), validated by surface based observations of the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) ozone network.NASA instruments showed that on 25 September the area of the hole reached 29.5 million square kilometres, compared to 29.4 million in September 2000. Each agency uses different instruments, giving slightly different values, and according to ESA, the hole reached 28 million square kilometres on 25 September, very close to its maximum for 2000, which peaked at 28.4 million. The ozone mass deficit in 2006 was measured at 39.8 megatonnes on 1 October, higher than in 2000, which peaked at 39.6 megatonnes on 29 September. Mass deficit is the amount of ozone missing from a vertical column of air compared to a baseline measured many decades earlier before severe ozone depletion appeared.Scientists have become increasingly aware of possible links between ozone depletion and climate change. Increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will lead to a warmer climate at the Earth’s surface. At altitudes where the ozone layer is found, the same increase is likely to lead to a cooling of the atmosphere, enhancing the chemical reactions that destroy ozone. At the same time, the amount of water vapour in the stratosphere has been increasing at the rate of about 1 per cent per year. A wetter and colder stratosphere means more polar stratospheric clouds, which is likely to lead to more severe ozone loss in both polar regions. read more

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Sri Lanka must fulfil the rights of families of the disappeared –

“The widespread use of enforced disappearances for many decades has left profound wounds in the society and a deep sense of mistrust among the relatives,” the group said in preliminary observations at the end of a 10-day official visit to Sri Lanka.The Geneva-based independent human rights experts noted “an almost complete lack of accountability and decisive and sustained efforts to search for the truth – in particular the determination of the fate or whereabouts of those who disappeared.”They flagged the absence of a comprehensive and effective reparation program and social, psychological and economic support for the relatives.The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is comprised of Houria Es-Slami (Morocco), Bernard Duhaime (Canada),Tae-Ung Baik (Republic of Korea), Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina) and Henrikas Mickevicius (Lithuania). The group was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives.In their statement, the experts welcomed the commitments made by the new Government of Sri Lanka to embark on comprehensive measures to ensure truth, justice and reparation for victims, as well as prevent any recurrence of disappearances in the future. They also noted “encouraging steps such as the official invitation to visit the country, the “excellent cooperation” received during the visit, the government’s increasing openness, and the commitments expressed by various authorities they met, including to establish a dedicated Office for Missing Persons.“These promises and commitments must now be followed by concrete efforts and tangible results,” according to the group. “Sri Lanka must seize this historic opportunity and adopt urgent and profound measures to satisfy the rights of the victims as a fundamental step which will help lay the ground for a sincere reconciliation process,” it said.As one first measure, the experts urged the authorities to give clear instructions at all level of the military, security and law-enforcement forces that all type of threats, harassment and intimidation towards families searching for their loved ones must immediately cease, will not be tolerated and will be severely sanctioned.The Working Group visited – in addition to Colombo – Batticaloa, Galle, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Matale, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee. They met with the President, the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and other high-level State authorities, as well as representatives of civil society organizations, and with hundreds of relatives of disappeared and missing throughout the country.A final report on the visit will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2016. read more

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