Weather Blog: Antarctic ozone hole expands

Ozone hole over the Antarctic

Scientists say the Antarctic ozone hole is now one of the largest in recent years.

Posted: Oct 13, 2020 12:19 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — During the months of September and October, the ozone hole over Antarctica rapidly expanded.

Just one year ago, scientists recorded it at its smallest size since it was discovered in 1985.

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Today, the ozone hole has become one of the largest and deepest in recent years.

According to the World Meteorological Organization or the WMO, the hole over Antarctica grew rapidly from the middle of August into early October to a staggering 9.2 million square miles.

WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch programme works closely with Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service, NASA, Environment and Climate Change Canada and other partners to monitor the Earth’s ozone layer.

Earth’s ozone layer protects us from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.

“There is much variability in how far ozone hole events develop each year. The 2020 ozone hole resembles the one from 2018, which also was a quite large hole, and is definitely in the upper part of the pack of the last fifteen years or so”, said CAMS Director Vincent-Henri Peuch in a news release.

According to the WMO, the large ozone hole in 2020 has been driven by a strong, stable and cold polar vortex.

The cold air has kept the temperatures of the ozone layer of Antarctica consistently cold.

Ozone depletion is directly related to the temperatures in the stratosphere, which is home of the ozone layer.

The depletion is due to polar stratospheric clouds, which have an important role in the chemical destruction of the ozone and form at temperatures below -108.4°F.

According to the WMO, the ice crystals in the clouds react with particles in the atmosphere which can rapidly destroy the ozone when exposed to sunlight.

The Antarctic ozone hole will shrink when the temperatures in the stratosphere starts to rise in the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s currently spring.

By December 2020, it should return to normal.

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