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Kiruna, 22 January 2000

Will an ozone hole develop over the Arctic?
A press briefing at the research site

Keywords: ozone, environment, international co-operation

Today, in the arctic research centre of Esrange, Kiruna in Sweden, Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin introduces a press briefing to present the Theseo 2000 campaign (Third European Stratospheric Experiment on Ozone), a major part of the biggest field campaign ever studying the ozone loss over the Northern Hemisphere. Together with the US NASA-sponsored Solve project (SAGE III Ozone Loss and Validation Experiment) and a number of national agencies around the world, the Theseo 2000-Solve campaign brings together more than 350 scientists measuring ozone and other stratospheric gases using aircraft, large and long-duration balloons, ozonesondes, ground-based instruments and satellites.

The Theseo presentation will mark the beginning of a decisive period in the development of the Arctic stratosphere. Over the last ten years or so, cold winters have been a prerequisite for maximum ozone depletion, and scientists now understand the chemical processes in the stratosphere that cause the phenomenon. It has been very cold during December 1999 and the first half of January 2000. For most days in this period the temperatures at altitudes around 21 km were close to, or lower than, the lowest in the long-term records from 1966 to 1997. According to current understanding, the conditions for chemical ozone destruction are in place in the Arctic vortex. On the basis of preliminary data, substantial depletion may take place. How much ozone will be lost depends on the evolution of the stratosphere in the coming weeks.

"The Theseo 2000 campaign is an excellent example of EU-funded research. It addresses an issue which is important to all European citizens, for, to avoid the increased UV radiation caused by ozone decline impairing our health and well-being, it is vital to understand what is happening in our atmosphere," Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin explains. "The campaign is closely coordinated with national research programmes, thus maximising the added value at European level. And beyond that, Theseo contributes to international research and efforts to phase out ozone-depleting substances, in line with the aim of the Montreal Protocol."

More information, including a list of participating institutions, can be found at the Theseo 2000 and Solve web sites:

You may also contact one of the following people:

Dr Georgios Amanatidis, Scientific Officer
Environment and Sustainable Development Programme, Research DG
Fax : +32-2-296.30.24
E-mail :

Piia Huusela, Press and Information Officer
Communication Unit, Research DG
Fax: +32-2-295.82.20

See also: "Ozone loss over European Arctic - EU and US join forces in the biggest field study yet", press release of 18 November 1999

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PRESS RELEASES | 06.07.2000