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U.N. issues update on ozone layer

GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Even though ozone depletion over the Antarctic is expected to be typical this year, the World Meteorological Organization has long-term concerns.

The United Nations' weather group said prevailing temperatures and cloud activity over the Antarctic suggests the so-called ozone hole will be about average when compared with previous years.

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The WMO said it's too early to make definitive predictions on the actual size. It added in a bulletin, however, that while the international community was making strides in the elimination of ozone-depleting chemicals, it will likely take several decades for the atmospheric concentrations to fall below benchmark levels from the 1980s.

A high level of ozone depletion means more harmful ultraviolet light from the sun reaches the Earth's surface. This can lead to increased rates of cancer and damage to plants.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer opened for signature in 1987. It calls for the graduation elimination of chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons that are tied to ozone depletion.

The fluctuation in the ozone layer above Antarctica is a seasonal phenomenon that is brought on by extreme cold and the presence of ozone-depleting substances.

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