According to the experts in charge of monitoring it, the hole in the ozone layer that forms every year is "much larger than normal" and is presently larger than Antarctica.
Researchers from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service reported that the hole is rapidly growing this year and is now greater than 75% of ozone holes at this point in the season since 1979.
The Ozone is found in the stratosphere, roughly seven to twenty-five miles (11-40 kilometers) above the Earth's surface, and functions as a sunscreen for the globe, protecting it from UV light. The sun triggers ozone-depleting processes, which include chemically active forms of chlorine and bromine produced from human-made chemicals, every year during the late winter of the southern hemisphere. Copernicus stated in a statement that this year's hole "has developed into a considerably larger than the normal one."
The service's director, Vincent-Henri Peuch, told the Guardian: "We can't tell how the ozone hole will grow at this time." However, this year's hole is very comparable to the one in 2020, which was among the deepest and longest-lasting in our data since 1979 (it closed before Christmas).
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Among the Largest in Record
"The ozone hole in 2021 is already among the top 25% in our data dating back to 1979, but the process is still underway. In the next weeks, we'll continue to keep an eye on it. A big or small ozone hole in a single year does not always indicate that the general healing process is not progressing as predicted, but it might indicate that more attention is needed and research directed toward understanding the causes of a given ozone hole event."
CFCs Worsening the Situation
Scientists agree that human-made chemicals known as CFCs, initially created in the 1930s for use in refrigeration systems before being employed as propellants in aerosol spray cans, are to blame for ozone layer depletion. Because the compounds are stable, they can travel from the ground to the stratosphere. They are then broken down by high-energy UV radiation at the height where the stratospheric Ozone is present. Ozone is destroyed as a result of the chemical processes that follow. As a result, CFCs have been outlawed in 197 countries worldwide.
The ozone layer has begun to rebuild since the prohibition on so-called halocarbons, but it is a slow process that will take until the 2060s or 1970s for the depleting chemicals to be phased out completely. With average meteorological circumstances, the ozone hole has generally developed to a maximum of 20 million sq km in recent years (8 million sq miles).
The ozone hole in the Arctic in 2020 was likewise quite big and deep, reaching nearly three times the area of the continental United States.
Between mid-September and mid-October, the Antarctic ozone hole reaches its height. Ozone depletion decreases when temperatures increase high in the stratosphere in late spring in the southern hemisphere, the polar vortex weakens and eventually breaks down, and ozone levels generally recover to normal by December.
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