Published: Sun, November 05, 2017
Science | By Eileen Rhodes

Ozone Hole Smallest in Recorded History

Ozone Hole Smallest in Recorded History

Scientists said the minimized ozone hole is mostly natural but is also attributed to the worldwide ban of ozone-eating chemicals in the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

The hole in Earth's ozone layer that forms over Antarctica each September was the smallest observed since 1988, NASA satellite measurements from this year have revealed.

"Weather conditions over Antarctica were a bit weaker and led to warmer temperatures, which slowed down ozone loss", he said. In 2016, the ozone hole reached a maximum of 8.9 million square miles, 2 million square miles less than in 2015.

Thirty years ago, the global community signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and began regulating ozone-depleting compounds.

The size of hole in Ozone layer was at its peak on September 11, nearly two and a half times the size of the United States; but then it started declining and have been on a continuous shrinking spree for rest of the September and October. This helped in reducing the number of clouds that are normally found in the lower stratosphere. The ozone hole over Antarctica is expected to gradually become less severe as chlorofluorocarbons-chlorine-containing synthetic compounds once frequently used as refrigerants - continue to decline.

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The treaty galvanized action toward addressing the hole in the ozone layer.

Ozone is comprised of three oxygen atoms and occurs naturally in small amounts.

NASA says researchers expect the hole to return to 1980 levels by around 2070.

The ozone layer sits between 11 and 40 km above the earth's surface and protects the inner atmosphere from ultraviolet rays from the sun, which can cause skin cancer in humans. Although recovery is underway, the size of the hole remains large compared to the 1980s, when the hole was first detected, NASA noted. Satellites, like NASA's Aura satellite and NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite measure ozone from space. The three-oxygen molecule is toxic at ground level, but high in the atmosphere, it deflects risky ultraviolet rays from reaching Earth's surface. Every year, the hole reaches its peak at different date.

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