The ozone hole over the South Pole is now bigger than Antarctica

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An ozone forecast graphic with the Antarctic region in the center. The high ozone is the yellow, orange and red parts, while the low ozone is the green or blue portions. In solid black the 220 DU shape, which commonly characterizes the surface of the ozone hole.

According to experts from the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, The ozone hole forming across the South Pole every year is currently bigger than Antarctica.

In the Southern Hemisphere’s spring, which runs from August through October, ozone depletes and develops a hole over the Antarctic. According to Copernicus, it reaches its peak between mid-September and the middle of October.

The hole has grown “considerably” in the last week, surpassing 75% of prior years’ ozone holes at the same stage of the season since 1979, and is now larger than the continent it hovers over.

“As projected at the beginning of the season this year, the ozone hole emerges,” says Copernicus director Vincent-Henri Peuch.

The hole this year has now grown to be more than usual, according to our predictions.

Copernicus said this year’s hole usually began in September but quickly became “one of the longest-lasting ozone holes in our data record.

The 9-15 kilometers ozone layer above the surface of the earth shields the planet from damaging UV rays.

Chemicals such as chlorine and bromine migrate into the stratosphere during Antarctic winter, causing catalytic processes that generate the hole in the Southern Hemisphere.

A whirling refrigerated air ring that round the earth, the Antarctic polar vortex, is connected with the ozone hole. Ozone depletion slows when temperatures rise in the stratosphere in late spring, the polar vortex weakens and eventually breaks down, and ozone levels normally return to normal by December.

According to Copernicus and NASA, this stops the isolation of air caused by the polar vortex that forms during Antarctic winter, allowing pollutants like chlorine and bromine to degrade the ozone layer. Usually, the level of ozone is back to normal by December.

Copernicus uses computer modeling and satellite data to track the ozone layer, and while it is showing indications of recovery, Copernicus estimates that it will not fully recover until the 2060s or 2070s.

This is due to the impacts of gradually removing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that deplete the ozone layer.

The Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987, was the first to regulate drugs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, they will be phased out by 2030.

The World is on track for another 2,5 degrees Celsius in global temperatures and ozone completion according to a study published in Nature magazine last month, without the Protocol banning the CFCs.

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