The ozone hole over the Antarctic has reached its maximum annual size and is one of the largest and deepest in recent years, WMO warned.
The ozone hole over the Antarctic has reached its 2020 peak and is one of the largest holes of recent years, the World Meteorological Organisation announced today (6 October) at the United Nations in Geneva. The finding is based on observations by the European Union’s Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service.
Speaking to the journalists, Clare Nullis, Spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said that the “European Union’s Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service this morning issued a press release saying that the ozone hole over the Antarctic - which is an annual event – it’s one of the largest and one of the deepest in recent years”.
Each year in August, at the start of the Antarctic Spring, the ozone hole begins to grow and reaches its peak around October.
Ozone depletion over the Antarctic continent was first spotted in 1985. Over the last 35 years various measures have been introduced to reduce the hole such as the “Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer”, an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion. As a result of the international agreement, the ozone hole in Antarctica is slowly recovering.
Despite the growing hole, experts are confident that since the restrictions on ozone-destroying halocarbons was introduced via the Montreal Protocol, the hole has slowly been recovering. Climate projections indicate that the ozone layer will return to 1980 levels in 2060.
“The Montreal Protocol, which effectively phased out ozone-eating substances, is one of the most effective successful environmental treaties of all time. We cannot, however, be complacent”, warned WMO’s Clare Nullis.
Ozone depletion relies on extremely cold temperatures. Therefore, the colder the temperature in the stratosphere over Antarctica, the bigger the ozone hole.
“The air has been below minus 78 degrees Celsius and this is the temperature which you need to form stratospheric clouds and this quite complex process”, according to Clare Nullis. “But basically, the ice in these clouds triggers a reaction which then can destroy the ozone zone. So, it’s because of that that we are seeing the big ozone hole this year”.
Scientists are predicting that the ozone hole in spring will become smaller and recover as a seasonal event.