Brian Dunbar Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

October 8, 1991 (Phone: 202/453-1547) Dolores Beasley Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. (Phone: 301/286-2806) RELEASE: 91-165 1991 OZONE LEVEL MATCHES THREE PREVIOUS YEARS Preliminary data from NASA's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) suggest that 1991 will be the third consecutive year that severe ozone depletion has developed over the Antarctic. Scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., report that ozone amounts declined steadily from mid-August when, minimum polar values were observed to be near 200 Dobson units, through Oct. 1, when ozone values of 127 Dobson units were reached. Ozone, a molecule made up of three atoms of oxygen, acts as a shield against solar ultraviolet radiation that increase risks of cancer in humans and threaten food crops. The ozone hole is a large area of intense ozone depletion over the Antarctic continent that occurs typically from late-August through early-October and breaks up in mid-November. This year's ozone hole occupies an area of about 8 million square miles covering the Antarctic continent. This area is nearly the same as previous years, making this the fourth severe ozone hole since 1986. The exception is 1988, when a weaker ozone hole was observed because of unusual

stratospheric weather conditions. The ozone hole shows no clear sign of expansion compared to previous severe ozone hole years. This is the 13th year that the ozone hole has been monitored using the TOMS, an instrument on board the Goddard-managed Nimbus-7 spacecraft. On Aug. 15, a refurbished engineering model of TOMS was launched aboard a Soviet Meteor-3 spacecraft. This new instrument began gathering data soon after launch and also has observed this year's ozone hole. -more-2NASA's commitment to environmental research continues with the Goddard-managed Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), launched Sept 12, 1991. UARS will focus on the chemical, dynamic and energy processes that lead to ozone depletion, complementing and amplifying the measurements of total ozone made by the TOMS instruments. Beginning this month, NASA scientists will take part in the second Arctic Airborne Stratospheric Expedition. This program, sponsored by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation and the chemical industry, will use high-altitude aircraft to study ozone depletion in the Arctic. -endNote to Editors: two images of TOMS data are available to media representatves to illustrate this story. One shows ozone levels over Antarctica for Oct. 1, 1991. (Color: 91-HC-660; black and white 91-H-674.) The other shows ozone levels over Antarctica on Oct. 1 for the years 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991. (Color: 91-HC-659; black and white 91-H-673.)