By John E. Hobbs
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Extra resources for Applied Climatology. A Study of Atmospheric Resources
4 HAZARDS AND EXTREMES Variability is an inherent characteristic of climate. The discussion so far has centred upon possible variability over periods of many years, with changes of a gradual rather than violent nature. Even at the level of seasonal or diurnal variability, the changes tend to be within the range to which man can adjust relatively easily, although climatic change is probably accompanied by a different set of extreme and hazardous conditions, which may make adjustment difficult.
Data from thirty Austrahan stations from 1957 to 1973 suggest that steadily decreasing temperatures are not a feature. Northern hemisphere evidence points to the largest cooling since 1940 having occurred in high latitudes, but observations from seven stations in Antarctica reveal no comparable downward trend (Fig. 3). Australia and New Zealand may be anomalous in the context of the southern hemisphere as a whole. Streten (1977) reported that over the period 1958 to 1975 there was consider ably more warming, or less cooling, in the Australian and New Zealand sector than elsewhere, contrary to trends in the rest of the southern hemisphere.
The average freon molecule probably takes several decades to reach above 25 km in the stratosphere, where the breakdown occurs. Fluorocarbons themselves are unusually chemically inert, so unlike many pollutants they are not quickly broken down or removed. It is the products of the eventual breakdown that take part in ozone-destroying reactions, so it is likely to be several decades before the fluorocarbons released now have any impact on ozone levels. Stratospheric ozone concentrations fluctuate with natural changes in the rates of con tinuous production and destruction.