First ozone observatory in Tibet starts operation

Updated: 2008-01-06 20:30

LHASA -- The first ozone measurement observatory in Tibet Autonomous Region has became operational on the world's highest plateau, according to local meteorological administration.

With an investment of 1.52 million yuan (US$208,000), installment on the observatory began last December at an elevation of 3,648.9 meters in Lhasa, the regional capital. It is equipped the cutting-edge Brewer Ozone Spectrophotometer which alone costs 1.40 million yuan (192,000 U.S. dollars).

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"Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is a hot-spot area for international climate change observation," said Zhang Yong, a senior engineer with Lhasa Meteorological Bureau,"The comparison of ozone observation data in Tibet with those in the baseline observatory in Qinghai Province will accurately reflect the changes in the ozone layer over the plateau."

He said the observatory will provide precise information on the total ozone amount and the Ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation.

"The sophisticated instrument will regularly send data to Chinese meteorological departments for analysis, and will be further forwarded to the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Center (WOUDC) based in Canada to avail scientist from all over the world," said Zhang.

Lhasa is located in the low-level ozone layer region on Western China's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Chinese scientists have found the ozone layer was thinner on the plateau during summer, compared with other regions of the same latitude on the earth.

Ozone is one of the gases forming the Earth's atmosphere and is the major shield against UVB radiation, absorbing approximately 90 percent of solar UVB. Excessive exposure to UVB can cause skin cancer in humans and is a major contributor to glacial melting.

China has installed five Brewer-equipped ozone observatories , including one in the Zhongshan Station in Antarctica.

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