Ozone hole over Antarctica has grown to its largest size in 15 years

Representational image

New Delhi (NVI): The hole in the Ozone layer over the Antarctica continent has become larger and deeper in last past 15 years, according to World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The World Meteorological Organization in its latest finding said that the Ozone hole over Antarctica has peaked at 24 million square kilometers (approximately 9.3 million square miles) and is now at 23 million square kilometers (approximately 8.9 million square miles), the World Economic Forum reported.

It also said that the growth in the size of the hole increased in the month of August every year and continued till the month of October.

Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) was quoted and saying that, “With the sunlight returning to the South Pole in the last weeks, we saw continued ozone depletion over the area. After the unusually small and short-lived ozone hole in 2019, which was driven by special meteorological conditions.”

“We are registering a rather large one again this year, which confirms that we need to continue enforcing the Montreal Protocol banning emissions of ozone depleting chemicals,” Peuch added.

The CAMS explained that the Ozone layer is important because it protects the earth from dangerous ultraviolet radiation. In the late 20th century, the layer was damaged by the human release of ozone-depleting halocarbons, which the Montreal Protocol of 1987 sought to control.

However, the size of the Ozone hole every year is impacted by specific weather conditions. This year, a strong polar vortex has chilled the air above Antarctica, and consistently cold air creates the ideal conditions for ozone depletion.

WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis at a UN briefing said, “The air has been below minus 78 degrees Celsius, and this is the temperature which you need to form stratospheric clouds and this quite (a) complex process.”

“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,” Nullis added.

Meanwhile, the Montreal Protocol has been hailed as an example of effective international collaboration on a major environmental problem. Last year’s hole over Antarctica was the smallest it has been since the hole was discovered, but this was due to unusual weather, not emissions reductions, according to the reports.

“There is much variability in how far ozone hole events develop each year,” Peuch said a statement.

Furthermore, the WMO and the UN Environment Programme determined in 2018 that the ozone layer was on the road to recovery and could return to pre-1980 levels over Antarctica by 2060.