Story at a glance

  • This year’s ozone layer hole is growing quickly and is larger than 75 percent of ozone holes at this stage in the season since 1979.
  • The ozone hole forms over the Antarctic during the Southern Hemisphere's spring season from August to October and reaches max size some time between mid-September and mid-October.
  • Researchers say that while the ozone layer has shown signs of recovery, it likely won’t be until the 2060s or '70s that the ozone-depleting substances completely disappear from the atmosphere.

Researchers say the hole in the ozone layer that develops each year over the Southern Hemisphere is larger than usual and is currently bigger than Antarctica. 

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service on Thursday announced this year’s ozone layer hole is growing quickly and is larger than 75 percent of ozone holes at this stage in the season since 1979. 

“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 until early September, but then turned into one of the largest and longest-lasting ozone holes in our data record later in the season,” Vicent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, said in a release

“Now our forecasts show that this year’s hole has evolved into a rather larger than usual one. The vortex is quite stable and the stratospheric temperatures are even lower than last year. We are looking at a quite big and potentially also deep ozone hole,” Peuch said. 


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The ozone hole forms over the Antarctic during the Southern Hemisphere's spring season from August to October and reaches max size some time between mid-September and mid-October, according to researchers. 

When temperatures begin to increase in the stratosphere, ozone depletion slows and levels usually return to normal by December. 

The ozone layer is found in the stratosphere about 10 to 25 miles above the Earth’s surface and covers the entire planet, protecting life by absorbing harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. 

Scientists in the 1970s discovered a link between chlorofluorocarbons, chemicals used in aerosol sprays and refrigerants, and the breakdown of ozone in the stratosphere. 

More than 196 countries in 1987 signed the Montreal Protocol, in which the main ozone-depleting chemicals were banned. 

Researchers say that while the ozone layer has shown signs of recovery, it likely won’t be until the 2060s or '70s that the ozone-depleting substances completely disappear from the atmosphere.


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Published on Sep 16, 2021