Arctic Ozone Depletion

Fairbanks, Alaska: This is my first trip to Alaska, “ The Last Frontier” according to many local license plates. It feels somehow satisfying to be traveling this far North since I spend so much time down in the southern regions of our planet. In some geomantic traditions there is a belief that a person can refresh their energy by traveling in vertical, as opposed to horizontal directions, as this brings a kind of balance. I can now imagine that there might be some truth to this ancient teaching. Fairbanks rests at a latitude of 64 degrees north. Just today, we have received news from zones even further north, all the way up into the Arctic Circle. An enormous hole in Earth’s protective ozone layer has suddenly torn open and continues to expand. Even more troubling, we have reports that the new hole is the first of its kind and largest ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere. This does not bode well. Reports of an 80 percent loss of ozone in our upper atmosphere, with potential to expose everyone and everything on the planetary surface to harmful ultraviolet B rays from the sun, should be cause for world-wide concern. Air masses exposed to ozone loss above the Arctic tend to drift southward and may affect the middle latitudes. Ultraviolet B rays have been linked with skin cancer, cataracts and damage to the human immune ystem. These rays can also produce adverse effects in marine life and vegetation which could reverberate throughout the global food chain. Damage to the tiny phytoplankton could have also have world -wide consequences since they play a crucial role in regulating atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.

Almost every web site that carried this story offered a variety of reasons for this unexpected phenomenon. As recently as nine years ago, the World Meteorological Society assured us that the Arctic would never experience an ozone hole since it lacked a polar vortex and the cold temperatures necessary to produce such a breach. Now, we are asked to believe that this sudden anomaly was produced by the 2010/2011 winter, the stratospheric, icy cold, wind pattern known as the polar vortex. Mainstream media stories hold that this unusually strong polar vortex, led to prolonged sub-zero conditions. These unusual conditions then lasted for months and this in turn created ideal conditions for ozone destroying chlorine compounds to eliminate the ozone. (More information from this perspective is available at )

Now, what caught my immediate attention was the fact that this anomalous, Arctic ozone hole opened suddenly in March and April and is undergoing a process of continuous expansion. For a systemically oriented global traumatologist, the obvious question is, “What happened suddenly in March of 2011? In March of 2011, Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, suddenly underwent a series of highly radioactive explosions, meltdowns and melt-throughs which continue on to this day. Japanese investigative journalist Yoichi Shimatsu believes that this Japanese disaster has seriously impacted and may even have caused this sudden breach in the Earth’s protective ozone layer. (Mainichi ,Japan, October, 3, 2011 ).

Mr. Shimatsu offers a simplified explanation of chemical reactions in our upper atmosphere which have impacted this new Arctic ozone hole. A cold winter in 2010 /2011 generated dense stratospheric clouds over the Arctic region. These extreme temperatures and the presence of moisture enhanced chemical reactions with a number of gases which deplete ozone. Fukushima reactors and burning fuel rods released tons of iodine which is a highly- reactive ozone attacking agent. This ongoing disaster also released xenon, which quickly transformed into xenon fluoride. Soon thereafter, our planetary Jetstream carried these newly formed xenon fluoride compounds northeasterly across the Arctic Circle, looping back down over Greenland, Scandinavia and Russia. This, Mr. Shimatsu maintains, accounts for the oblong shape and direction of the recently expanded ozone hole. Since conditions leading to this unusually rapid ozone depletion are ongoing, it stands to reason that further depletion will continue.

If any of this information is valid, we need to acknowledge and prepare for our new reality of ongoing, irreversible climate change… and then conscientiously prepare for what may soon become a very different world.

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