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Environ Pollut. 2005 Oct;137(3):428-42. Epub 2005 Apr 21.

Depletion of stratospheric ozone over the Antarctic and Arctic: responses of plants of polar terrestrial ecosystems to enhanced UV-B, an overview.

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  • 1Department of Systems Ecology, Institute of Ecological Science, Climate Centre, Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1087, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Depletion of stratospheric ozone over the Antarctic has been re-occurring yearly since 1974, leading to enhanced UV-B radiation. Arctic ozone depletion has been observed since 1990. Ozone recovery has been predicted by 2050, but no signs of recovery occur. Here we review responses of polar plants to experimentally varied UV-B through supplementation or exclusion. In supplementation studies comparing ambient and above ambient UV-B, no effect on growth occurred. UV-B-induced DNA damage, as measured in polar bryophytes, is repaired overnight by photoreactivation. With UV exclusion, growth at near ambient may be less than at below ambient UV-B levels, which relates to the UV response curve of polar plants. UV-B screening foils also alter PAR, humidity, and temperature and interactions of UV with environmental factors may occur. Plant phenolics induced by solar UV-B, as in pollen, spores and lignin, may serve as a climate proxy for past UV. Since the Antarctic and Arctic terrestrial ecosystems differ essentially, (e.g. higher species diversity and more trophic interactions in the Arctic), generalization of polar plant responses to UV-B needs caution.

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