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Measurements by NIWA staff at Scott Base, Antarctica, confirm reports of a large ozone hole this year.

Christchurch has a severe air pollution problem, especially during winter. This winter, scientists from NIWA will be using a $150,000 spectrometer to examine how this local air pollution reduces the amount of UV radiation that reaches the earth’s surface.

With the increasing focus on renewable energy sources, how can we find the best places to put new wind farms? NIWA scientists are using several new tools, including one which uses sound waves, to help answer this question.

If we want to get the best generating capacity out of wind turbines, we should put them in places with the highest average speeds. The wind in a particular place consists of a few storms, some calm periods, and everything else in between. If we put all these conditions together, we get the average wind speed.

Keeping your car in tune could do more to help reduce motor vehicle pollution than fitting catalytic converters, says the National Centre for Climate–Energy Solutions.

The Antarctic ozone hole has formed again this year, as expected, but it hasn't matched the records set last year.

“It reached a maximum size of just over 26 million square kilometres in mid-September, and it still occupies more than 20 million square kilometres”, said Dr Stephen Wood, a NIWA scientist currently at Scott Base, New Zealand’s Antarctic research station. “Last year the hole reached 30 million square kilometres in area, and the minimum ozone reading was 126 Dobson Units at Scott Base, whereas this year’s minimum was 132 Units.“

NIWA measurements of atmospheric ozone above Arrival Heights, near Scott Base in Antarctica, have reached the lowest values recorded. On September 30 the ozone level recorded there was 124 Dobson Units (DU) which is a new record low measurement for the site.

Do you have the impression that you get sunburnt more easily in recent summers? If so, you are probably right. A study by NIWA scientists, which appears in the 10 September issue of the international magazine Science, demonstrates that long-term increases in peak summertime UV radiation have occurred in recent years as a result of ozone depletion.

Dr Greg Bodeker of NIWA Lauder, Central Otago, is one of two recipients this year of the United Nations World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) international "Research Award for Young Scientists".

The Ozone Hole in the stratosphere above Antarctica affects our lifestyles, our climate, and our environment. It represents one of nature’s most dramatic responses to air pollution arising from human activities of the 20th century. NIWA has an active atmospheric research programme measuring ozone at Lauder in Central Otago and at Arrival Heights in Antarctica.

Nobel Laureate Paul J. Crutzen, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995, will visit New Zealand later this month under the Science and Technology Agreement between New Zealand and the Federal Republic of Germany.

"The public should be aware that the UV radiation over New Zealand, particularly in the north of the country, will be particularly high over the next few days under clear sky conditions", said National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) scientist Paul Johnston.

NIWA scientists have applied statistical techniques to predict ozone levels, and hence the UV levels, that may be expected over New Zealand for the coming summer.

An international centre for post-graduate study in ocean and atmospheric research is being established in Auckland. The Institute of Aquatic and Atmospheric Sciences will be a joint project between the University of Auckland and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

The 1998 Antarctic ozone hole is unusually large and formed very early.

Dr Stephen Wood, NIWA, Scott Base, Antarctica

According to preliminary NASA satellite data it is now the largest on record, last week covering more than 27 million square kilometres, around 5% larger that the previous record set in 1996. Like the 1996 ozone hole, it developed much more rapidly in late August and early September than other years. However, this year the ozone hole has remained stable for longer and is now 20-25% larger than the 1996 ozone hole was on this date.


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