Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ozone: Depletion, Accretion, and Archival Ignorance

As NASA flaunted its Nobel Prize winners, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported its finding that 2006 saw a record loss of ozone over the South Pole. The depleting ozone layer was formerly a hot issue in the media, but has seemingly been forgotten by many outlets, likely because the ozone layer has apparently been gaining mass since about 2000 (and there's only so much play one issue can get).

In researching web coverage relating to this subject, I came across some archival oddities:

  • Either the CNN.com archive has some holes, or CNN managed to altogether avoid coverage in certain years: CNN had a single story in 2005 about the ozone layer; zero stories in 2006, zero in 2004, and zero in 2003. Most of the top 10 results, sorted by relevance, were published in 1999 or 2000.
  • Of the first 10 results from the NY Times archive, again sorted by relevance (technically "closest match"), not a single article was published later than 1988, otherwise known as 18 years ago.
  • The top 10 results from Google News were at most two days old (the top 3 results in Google dealt specifically with the ESA report).

I used the same query in each case ("ozone") and, as mentioned, sorted each list by relevance.

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