THE large hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica has grown so big it’s about the same size as the continent.
The hole reached one of its greatest and deepest recored sizes this year and a video released by the European Space Agency has revealed its magnitude.
The ozone hole over Antartica at its peak in 2020Credit: ESA / YouTube
The ESA explained alongside the video: “The animation shows the size of the ozone hole from 25 September 2020 until 18 October 2020.
“Measurements from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite show that this year’s ozone hole over the Antarctic is one of the largest in recent years.
“A detailed analyses from the German Aerospace Center indicates that the hole has now reached its maximum size.”
The ozone layer is an important layer surrounding Earth that shield’s us from the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
The ozone hole in 2019 was smallerCredit: NASA Goddard/ Katy Mersmann
Ozone itself is actually a molecule that is floating in the atmosphere and is grouped together in the layer.
The less ozone in our stratosphere, the more susceptible humans could become to things like skin cancer, cataracts and weak immune systems, according to Nasa.
The peak size of the ozone hole in 2020 is strikingly different from last year when the peak size of the hole was actually the smallest since records began.
Vincent-Henri Peuch, Director of Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service at ECMWF, said: “There is much variability in how far ozone hole events develop each year.
“The 2020 ozone hole resembles the one from 2018, which also was a quite large hole, and is definitely in the upper part of the pack of the last 15 years or so.
“With the sunlight returning to the South Pole in the last weeks, we saw continued ozone depletion over the area.
“After the unusually small and short-lived ozone hole in 2019, which was driven by special meteorological conditions, we are registering a rather large one again this year, which confirms that we need to continue enforcing the Montreal Protocol banning emissions of ozone depleting chemicals.”
The size of the ozone hole does fluctuate throughout the year due many factors, including temperature, but always reaches a peak size.
2020’s peak size was recorded at 25 million square kilometres (about 9.6 million square miles) on October 2.
The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty that was put in place in 1989 that aimed to phase out harmful manmade ozone destroying chemicals that could be found in things like refrigerators and sprays.
The halt in use of these chemicals is thought to be helping the ozone hole problem but this year’s measurements highlight how more could be done.
The largest hole size recorded was actually 29.9 million square kilometre back in 2000.
Strong polar winds and unusually stratospheric temperatures have thought to have been a set back for ozone hole progress this year.
Climate change explained
Here are the basic facts…
- Scientists have lots of evidence to show that the Earth’s climate is rapidly changing due to human activity
- Climate change will result in problems like global warming, greater risk of flooding, droughts and regular heatwaves
- Each of the last three decades have been hotter than the previous one and 17 of the 18 warmest years on record have happened during the 21st century
- The Earth only needs to increase by a few degrees for it to spell disaster
- The oceans are already warming, polar ice and glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising and we’re seeing more extreme weather events
- In 2015, almost all of the world’s nations signed a deal called the Paris Agreement which set out ways in which they could tackle climate change and try to keep temperatures below 2C
In other news, the past decade has seen the Atlantic Ocean see its hottest temperatures in almost three thousand years.
An unprecedented ‘mega-tsunami’ could be caused by a melting Alaska glacier, scientists have warned.
And, whales, dolphins and porpoises are facing ‘imminent’ extinction, according to over 350 experts.
Are you worried about the hole in the ozone? Let us know in the comments…
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