The hole in Earth’s ozone layer which is a yearly occurrence is now larger than all of Antarctica, according to new data from the European Union. Every spring (between August and October in the southern hemisphere), ozone depletion takes place above Antarctica, reaching its maximum size between mid-September and mid-October.
While the yearly ozone hole may seem benign, the current one is not – especially given its size, which is 75 per cent larger than ozone holes from previous years. In fact, the ozone hole this year is larger than the entire Antarctica!
“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.
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 number 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 number 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.