Mumbai: The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica may be larger in 2008 than last year, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.
The ozone layer shields the Earth from damaging ultra-violet rays from the sun that can cause skin cancer and also damage vegetation. WMO has stated that it's still too early to say for sure how big the ozone hole will be over Antarctica, which is usually the biggest around late September.
"As the sun returns to Antarctica after the polar night, it is expected that ozone depletion will speed up," said the United Nations agency in a bulletin.
While use of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) has declined, cold temperatures at high altitude and pollution, from chemicals often used in refrigeration, some plastic foams, or aerosol sprays, which have accumulated in the atmosphere is speeding up the depletion.
The ozone hole of 2006 was the largest recorded in history, since it was discovered in the 1980s.
According to WMO, regularly tends to form in August before it fills again in mid-December, but the size it reaches is dependent on weather conditions.
WMO plays a leading role in international efforts to monitor and protect the environment through its programmes in collaboration with other UN agencies and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services. WMO supports the implementation of a number of environmental conventions and is provides advice and assessments to governments on related matters. These activities contribute towards ensuring the sustainable development and well-being of nations.