Hole In Ozone Layer Now Smallest Since Its Discovery, NASA Says

Ozone layer depletion chloroflourocarbons NOAA Montreal Protocol 2010 climate agreements CFC 11 southern hemispheres CFC emissions atmospheric concentrations

Ozone layer depletion chloroflourocarbons NOAA Montreal Protocol 2010 climate agreements CFC 11 southern hemispheres CFC emissions atmospheric concentrations

Abnormal weather patterns in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica dramatically limited ozone depletion in September and October, resulting in the smallest ozone hole observed since 1982, NASA and NOAA scientists reported today. The elevated temperatures have slowed down the ozone depletion, keeping the hole at its small size, NASA explained in a video below. The hole was first discovered in 1985 after the amount of ozone decreased in the 1970s.

NASA and NOAA monitor the ozone hole via complementary instrumental methods. Ozone usually resides in the stratosphere about seven to 25 miles above the surface of the Earth.

However, this year they found the hole was smaller than expected, with the government agencies saying satellite data showed it had shrunk to 3.9 million square miles for the remainder of September and October. While that definitely sounds like and is a lot of surface, it's better than it used to be.

NASA says that during years with normal weather conditions, the ozone hole typically grows to a maximum area of about 8 million square miles in late September or early October.

"But it's important to recognise that what we're seeing this year is due to warmer stratospheric temperatures". Similar weather patterns in the Antarctic stratosphere in September 1988 and 2002 also produced atypically small ozone holes, she said.

Like a sunscreen for Earth, the ozone layer makes up a section of the planet's atmosphere and absorbs almost all of the sun's ultraviolet radiation, leaving just enough for life to thrive. That's very good news if you like being alive as UV rays are highly energetic and will cause harm to the DNA of living organisms. "That means more ozone over the hemisphere, less ultraviolet radiation at the surface". "It is anything but a sign that barometrical ozone is all of a sudden on a most optimized plan of attack to recuperation".

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The Montreal Protocol, a landmark global environmental treaty that took effect in 1988, has reduced CFC emissions worldwide.

But while the ozone layer may not be on the fast track to recovery, it is recovering.

"This warming that occurred is great news for the Southern Hemisphere because ozone is going to be higher and UV levels will be lower", Paul Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, told Live Science.

Washington, Pret. The ozone gas layer over Antarctica has recorded a record decline this year. Taking action to reduce the amount of CFCs in the atmosphere has had a real impact.

This would be outstanding in a typical year. About 12 miles (19 kilometres) above Earth's surface, temperatures during September were 29 degrees higher than average, NASA reported, "which was the warmest in the 40-year historical record for September by a wide margin". The clouds go away when it warms up. It's also likely that it allowed for ozone-rich air from other parts of the Southern Hemisphere to move in.

Scientists point to humans' declining use of products that contain chlorofluorocarbons as a reason why the hole is shrinking.

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