The hole in ozone layer over the South Pole is now bigger than Antarctica, say scientists at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. CAMS constantly monitors earth’s ozone layer, tracking the formation and evolution of the annual chemical destruction of ozone that leads to the development of the hole.
“CAMS scientists have been closely monitoring the development of this year´s ozone hole over the South Pole, which has now reached an extent larger than Antarctica. After a rather standard start, the 2021 ozone hole has considerably grown in the last two weeks and is now larger than 75% of ozone holes at that stage in the season since 1979,” said the scientists.
Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, comments: “This year, the ozone hole developed as expected at the start of the season. It seems pretty similar to last year’s, which also wasn’t really exceptional in September, but then turned into one of the longest-lasting ozone holes in our data record later in the season. Now our forecasts show that this year’s hole has evolved into a rather larger than usual one.”
During the Southern Hemisphere spring season from August to October, the ozone hole forms annually over the Antarctic, reaching a maximum between mid-September and mid-October.
The Antarctic ozone hole was discovered in the 1980s. Chemicals have broken down the layer over the region, exposing people to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. “In the late 20th century, human emissions of chemical substances called halocarbons adversely affected the amount of ozone molecules in the atmosphere, most notably resulting in the dramatic annual ozone hole over the Antarctic region. The Montreal Protocol, which came into force in 1987, has curbed the amount of halocarbons in the atmosphere, resulting in the slow recovery of the ozone layer,” read a statement by CAMS.
Since the ban on halocarbons, the ozone layer has shown signs of recovery, but it is a slow process and it will take until the 2060s or 2070s to see a complete phasing out of the ozone depleting substances.