Hole in Ozone Layer now bigger than Antarctica

Over the last few years, during the spring and summer months in the Southern Hemisphere, the ozone layer, the protective layer of gas in our atmosphere that protects us from UV-B radiation, develops a hole. This year, that hole is larger than the continent over which it resides, Antarctica.

Speaking in a statement to CNN, the director of the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, Vincent-Henri Peuch  said “This year, the ozone hole developed as expected at the start of the season; now our forecasts show that this year’s hole has evolved into a rather larger than usual one.”

This is after last year’s record breaking hole closed at the end of December 2020, a hole that eventually came to encompass 24.8 million square miles, and was one of the longest and largest holes recorded in the ozone layer since recording started in 1979. Being driven by naturally occurring meteorological factors, such as unusually strong polar vortex winds, and cold temperatures, 2020 also saw a similarly record breaking hole over the Arctic region as well.

Regulated by the Montreal Protocol, all hydrochlorofluorocarbons are to be phased out of use by 2030 due to causing  the holes in the ozone layer, which is predicted to recover fully by the 2070s, according to the Copernicus Service. Used in applications of refrigeration and air conditioning, HCFCs and the related compounds of CFC bind with ozone in the atmosphere, causing a thinning of the protective layer.

Though healing, a study published in August this year in the journal Nature, the destruction of the Ozone Layer could have lead to a 2.5 degree Celsius increase in global temperature by the year 2100, a group of scientists from the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand said.

As recent as 2018, scientists showed the resultant healing of the Ozone layer was a direct result of the ban on CFCs and HCFCs, saying measurements in January of that year “has resulted in about 20 percent less ozone depletion during the Antarctic winter than there was in 2005.” In fact, proof of the healing of the ozone comes as recent as 2019, when the hole over the Antarctic was at what the World Meteorological Organization was an “unusually small and short lived Antarctic Ozone hole.”

As time goes on, scientists are hopeful about what the affects of banning the depleting chemicals can have.

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