Currently, the formation and severity of the Antarctic ozone hole are documented each year by a combination of satellite, ground-based, and balloon observations of ozone. Heat, Image of the Day The key to understanding why an ozone hole forms every year in the Antarctic but rarely in the Arctic is the polar vortex. The stronger the polar vortex, … Human Presence, NASA Goddard Space Not yet, say NASA scientists. A deeper look at the ozone hole shows that for now weather still has a bigger influence on the size of the ozone hole than policies that limited emissions of ozone-destroying chemicals. The polar vortex is large pool of extremely cold air enclosed by a ring of fiercely strong westerly winds called the Polar Night Jet. The stratospheric ozone layer protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet light, which damages DNA in plants and animals (including humans) and leads to sunburns and skin cancer. The ozone hole is formed each year in the Southern Hemisphere spring (September-November) when there is a sharp decline (currently up to 60%) in the total ozone over most of Antarctica. The previous record of 10.0 million square miles was set in 1996. Since then, concentrations below 100 became more common. NASA and NOAA instruments have been measuring Antarctic ozone levels since the early 1970s. As the images show, the word hole isn’t literal; no place is empty of ozone. Depletion is usually worse the further from the equator and recently an Ozone hole (as defined by a distinct area of very low ozone levels) has been detected above the North Pole in the arctic. These clouds are responsible for chemical changes that promote … Models suggest that the concentration of chlorine and other ozone-depleting substances in the stratosphere will not return to pre-1980 levels until the middle decades of the 21st century. Red and yellow areas indicate the ozone hole. When they reached the stratosphere, however, their behavior changed. In the early 1980s, scientists began to realize that CFCs were creating a thin spot—a hole—in the ozone layer over Antarctica every spring. The World We Avoided by Protecting the Ozone Layer. Atmosphere The ozone hole is a seasonal phenomenon that starts to form during the Antarctic spring (August and September). In 2019, abnormal weather patterns in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica dramatically limited ozone depletion, leading to the smallest hole since 1982. NASA Goddard Space Despite popular beliefs, the ozone hole is not actually a hole in the ozone layer, but a region of depleted ozone in the stratosphere over the Antarctic, which occurs at the beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere, sometime between August and October.
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