WASHINGTON — Scientists in Antarctica reported today that a chemical process is apparently responsible for an alarming "hole" in the atmospheric ozone radiation shield 7 to 12 miles above the region of the South Pole.
Their preliminary findings from studies expected to continue into November add some support to the theory that chlorine from Freon-type gases called chlorofluorocarbons--primarily used in industry--may be destroying the vital ozone molecules every spring.
But the scientists emphasized that their findings are preliminary and said, "The cause may well be something not yet thought of."
The puzzling thinning of the ozone above Antarctica was first reported by British scientists last year and confirmed earlier this year by satellite measurements. The American researchers now at Antarctica said they also observed the "hole" during the last two months.