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The Arctic ozone layer could be much thinner than previously thought because of a side effect of global warming, say a group of German researchers.

According to Markus Rex of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam and his colleagues, if the upper atmosphere above the Arctic gets colder, as climate models are predicting, the rate of ozone depletion could be three times greater than now forecast.

The key players are so-called 'mother-of-pearl' clouds in the upper atmosphere, where the chemical reactions that promote ozone loss take place. A colder upper atmosphere is thought to encourage the formation of these clouds, and the loss of ozone.

Link to full news story in Nature Science Update