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‘Larger than usual’: this year’s ozone layer hole bigger than Antarctica

Mini

The formation of a hole in the ozone layer is not an unusual phenomenon. In fact, it is an annual development that occurs during the late winter of the southern hemisphere. But this time, the hole is bigger than even Antarctica.

‘Larger than usual’: this year’s ozone layer hole bigger than Antarctica

In another striking example of the adverse impact of climate change, researchers have found that the hole in the ozone layer that develops annually is unusually larger, this year. To put the dimensions into perspective, the hole that is being described as “rather larger than usual”, is currently bigger than Antarctica.

According to scientists at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), the agency of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, who are monitoring the hole, it is also quickly growing.

On the occasion of the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, which is celebrated every year on September 16, the CAMS has released a status update regarding the worrisome phenomenon. The hole in the ozone layer this year is “now larger than 75 percent of ozone holes at that stage in the season since 1979”, according to scientists.



The ozone layer, which exists between 11 and 40 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, performs works like a protective cover over the planet. Shielding Earth from the harmful rays of the sun plays an important role in protecting flora and fauna on the earth.

The release of human-made gases called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from refrigeration systems and air conditioners have proved to adversely affect the Ozone layer.

The formation of a hole in the ozone layer is not an unusual phenomenon. In fact, it is an annual development that occurs during the late winter of the southern hemisphere. It occurs when the sun causes ozone-depleting reactions, a statement by CAMS noted.

Explaining the phenomenon, a blog by CAMS said, “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. When temperatures high up in the stratosphere start to rise in late Southern Hemisphere spring, ozone depletion slows, the polar vortex weakens and finally breaks down, and by December, ozone levels usually return to normal.”



According to Vincent-Henri Peuch, Director of CAMS this year the ozone hole developed as expected at the start of the season and it was not exceptional until early September. Gradually it turned into one of the largest and longest-lasting ozone holes in the recorded data by CAMS later in the season, Peuch added. The forecasts show that this year’s hole ‘evolved into a rather larger than usual one’.

“We cannot really say at this stage how the ozone hole will evolve,” Vincent-Henri Peuch was quoted as saying by The Guardian. “However, the hole of this year is remarkably similar to the one of 2020, which was among the deepest and the longest-lasting – it closed around Christmas – in our records since 1979,” Peuch added.

In 2020 too, the ozone hole was very large and deep as well. It was estimated to be roughly three times the size of the continental US.



 
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