The WMO announced that observations taken from the ground, weather balloons, and satellites indicate that the stratospheric ozone layer over the Arctic declined by 40% from the beginning of the winter to late March, an unprecedented reduction in the region. Bryan Johnson of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory called the phenomenon “sudden and unusual” and pointed out that it could bring health problems for those in far northern locations such as Iceland and northern Scandinavia and Russia. The WMO noted that the thinning ozone was shifting locations as of late March from over the North Pole to Greenland and Scandinavia, suggesting that ultraviolet radiation levels in those areas will be higher than normal, and the Finnish Meteorological Institute followed with their own announcement that ozone levels over Finland had recently declined by at least 30%.
Previously, the greatest seasonal loss of ozone in the Arctic region was around 30%. Unlike the ozone layer over Antarctica, which thins out consistently each winter and spring, the Arctic’s ozone levels show greater fluctuation from year to year due to more variable weather conditions.