Record-Breaking Hole Opens Up In the Ozone Layer Above the Arctic
Scientists have reported that a large hole has appeared above the Arctic due to unusually low temperatures.
The Earth’s ozone layer – which absorbs a large amount of the harmful ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun – made headlines back in the 1980s when it was found that CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) in hair sprays, refrigerators, air conditioning systems and other products were causing it to thin.
Fortunately countries around the world moved to ban these chemicals in an effort to reduce or even reverse the damage they were causing and for the most part they were successful.
This does not mean that the ozone layer isn’t still vulnerable, however.
This week it was revealed that a record-breaking hole had opened up above the Arctic due to a period of abnormally low temperatures in the north polar region. Fortunately, unless it happens to move much further south, it is unlikely to cause a risk to humans and is expected to disappear again within the next few weeks.
“The hole is principally a geophysical curiosity,” said Vincent-Henri Peuch of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.
“We monitored unusual dynamic conditions, which drive the process of chemical depletion of ozone. [Those dynamics] allowed for lower temperatures and a more stable vortex than usual over the Arctic, which then triggered the formation of polar stratospheric clouds and the catalytic destruction of ozone.”
Scientists have noted that the appearance of the hole is not related to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Whether it is an abnormality caused by current climate change trends however remains unclear.
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Open Space Project