As alarming as it sounds, the ozone hole over Antarctica has reached its largest and deepest form yet, compared to previous years, according to the report by the European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).
The forming of the ozone hole, which was first observed around the 1970s, is a phenomenon caused by ozone depletion due to climate change. It annually takes place over Antarctica and appears in September and October, following the end of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
Researchers have been closely studying its size year by year.
The ozone hole is now twice the size of the United States
As 2019 was warmer compared to 2020, last year's ozone hole was considerably smaller compared to 2020. The stark changes in weather conditions and specific atmospheric events play an important role in the ozone hole's growth. This year’s ozone hole is also thought to have been affected by the Polar Vortex, where the temperature is around -112°F (-80°C).
According to the experts, the hole in the ozone layer is formed within the freezing Polar Vortex along with inactive chlorine and bromine. These substances, however, become chemically active when struck with sunlight when the Sun rises after the long winter, depleting the ozone layer.
Banning emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals
Following the alarming reports, director of CAMS, Vincent-Henri Peuch said, "There is much variability in how far ozone hole events develop each year. The 2020 ozone hole resembles the one from 2018, which also was a quite large hole, and is definitely in the upper part of the pack of the last fifteen years or so," and added that we should "continue enforcing the Montreal Protocol banning emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals," per Independent.
The ozone layer is an ozone shield covering the Earth against ultraviolet light and radiation, just outside the Stratosphere. It helps absorb around 97-99% of the ultraviolet light and radiation.
Without the ozone layer, the ultraviolet light and radiation from the Sun would scorch our planet, irreversibly damaging the life on Earth. (And we're not even mentioning the increase in skin cancer cases.)
Watch the video below for an illustration of the ozone hole in 2020:
2020's #OzoneHole is both larger and deeper than most in recent years. This is being driven by a strong, stable and cold polar vortex, with all signs pointing to continued ozone depletion in the coming days.#Ozone monitoring➡️https://t.co/c2tPB8OBuQ pic.twitter.com/MPiae3I5tL— Copernicus ECMWF (@CopernicusECMWF) October 1, 2020