On Tuesday, the European Union’s Earth Observation Program reported that the ozone hole over Antarctica has expanded to a size not seen in years. Reported by The Associated Press.
Experts from the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service said a strong, stable, and cold polar vortex stimulated the ozone hole to widen and called for increased international cooperation to ensure that countries comply with the agreement to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals.
Vincent-Henri Poy, head of Copernicus, said the ozone hole was “definitely” one of the largest in 15 years. The depletion of the ozone layer over the Antarctic continent was first noticed in 1985.
In Geneva, World Meteorological Organization spokeswoman Claire Nullis said the ozone hole begins to widen every August – at the start of the Antarctic spring – and peaks around October.
“The air was below minus 78 degrees Celsius, and this is the temperature that is required for stratospheric clouds to form – and this is a rather complicated process”, explains Nullis at a UN briefing. “The ice in these clouds triggers a reaction that can then destroy the ozone layer. So that’s why we’re seeing such a big ozone hole this year”.
In turn, the Copernicus service reported that the energy of the sun, when it rises above the pole, releases chemically active chlorine and bromine atoms into a polar vortex, which quickly destroys ozone molecules, causing a hole.
Nullis said that despite the growing hole, experts still believe that the ozone layer is slowly recovering after the Montreal Protocol. It is a treaty that was signed in 1987 and aims to phase out ozone-depleting substances. The representative of the World Meteorological Organization also cited climate projections indicating that the ozone layer will return to 1980 levels in 2060.