Deep ozone hole over Antarctica to stick around till end-November after September peak
2020 also saw the fourteenth-lowest levels of ozone – a key part of the atmosphere's shielding effect – in the past 33 years.
The annual large and deep ozone hole developing over the Antarctic is in no way backing down in the month of November, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA scientists.
“Persistent cold temperatures and strong circumpolar winds” had helped in the formation of the Antarctic ozone hole, that reached its peak in September, and it will in most probable scenario persist into November. Scientists said that the ozone hole that appeared in 2020 will be the twelfth-largest ozone hole in the 40 years of satellite recorded estimates. As per the data collected from the balloon-borne instrumental measurements, this year also saw the 14th lowest ozone readings in 33 years.
The statement also added that the hole had reached its climax on 20 September when the size of the vacuum in the earth’s atmosphere spread to a region measuring 24.8 million square kilometers, which is roughly three times the area of the continental United States. The Ozone layer in the stratosphere of our planet acts like a protective layering to shield us and other worldly beings from the harmful UV rays. Without the ozone screen in place, there is no barrier for the ultraviolet radiation to reach us.
Ozone is formed of three Oxygen atoms and reacts with chemicals very easily. There are many ozone depleting substances (ODS) in the atmosphere that led to the formation of the ozone hole in the first place. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed by several nations to regulate the production and consumption of about 100 of these ODS or man-made chemicals. According to NOAA, actions taken under the Montreal Protocol “prevented the hole from being as large as it would have been 20 years ago”.
Paul A Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said that the hole would have been a million square miles (approx. 25 lakh square kilometres) if there was still as much chlorine in the stratosphere as there was in 2000.
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Before 1833, at least seven million fur seals were killed in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic.