University of Southampton

Science • Nature
Study shows erosion of ozone layer responsible for mass extinction event

Researchers at the University of Southampton have found evidence showing high levels of UV radiation, caused by a brief breakdown of the ozone layer, collapsed forest ecosystems and killed off many species of fish and tetrapods in an extinction event at the end of the Devonian geological period, 359 million years ago.

The ozone collapse occurred as the climate rapidly warmed pushing more naturally generated ozone-destroying chemicals into the upper atmosphere. Researchers suggest that the Earth today could reach comparable temperatures, possibly triggering a similar event.