New research links two major environmental concerns: ozone depletion and climate change. Soaring water vapor from summer storms can damage the ozone layer right over the US, researchers find, and global warming can increase the frequency of such storms. Once the vapor reaches the stratosphere, it can interact with chemicals leftover from when CFC refrigerants were legal. If these events continue to deplete the ozone, it could raise the risk of skin cancer for millions, the New York Times reports.
While scientists have viewed ozone depletion and climate change separately for years, "now, they're intimately connected," says the lead researcher. "I never would have suspected this." Still, it remains to be seen whether an increase in storms would mean vapor damaging the ozone more often. If it does, the effects on the ozone would be "irreversible," the researcher says. The study also reveals that CFCs are still affecting the ozone, long after their ban in the 1980s.