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Observatory Reaches New Heights in Ozone Studies

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

With an investment of 1.52 million yuan (US$208,219), installing the observatory began last December at an elevation of 3,648.9 meters in Lhasa, the regional capital. It is equipped with a cutting-edge Brewer Ozone Spectrophotometer which alone cost 1.40 million yuan (US$192,479.55).

"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 Ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation.

"The sophisticated instrument will regularly send data to Chinese meteorological departments for analysis, and will also be further forwarded to the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Center in Canada," said Zhang.

Lhasa is located in the low-level ozone layer region on western China's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Ozone 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.

(Xinhua News Agency January 7, 2008)

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