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Ozone Hole Over South Pole Has Become Larger than Antarctica

Ozone layer
A visualization of the hole in the ozone layer around the South Pole. Credit: Stuart Rankin, CC BY-NC 2.0

The hole in the ozone layer that reemerges with the changing of the seasons has now grown larger than the size of Antarctica.

Scientists from the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service announced on Thursday that the hole has grown “considerably” in the last week, and is now bigger than 75% of past years’ holes since 1979 — and is now even larger than the continent it blankets.

Every spring, the ozone depletes so much it becomes a hole over the Antarctic (the Southern Hemisphere’s spring is between August and October.) The hole is at its largest in the period between mid-September and mid-October.

Copernicus Monitoring Service says that hole in the ozone layer larger than ever

“Our forecasts show that this year’s hole has evolved into a rather larger than usual one,” said Vincent-Henri Peuch, the director of Copernicus.

The ozone layer, which floats 9 to 22 miles over the Earth, serves the purpose of protecting the planet from ultraviolet radiation. The cause of the hole has been attributed to the presence of chemicals like chlorine and bromine in the stratosphere, creating catalytic reactions during the region’s winter.

The hole is part of the Antarctic polar vortex, a sequence of cold air that passes across the planet. When temperatures in the stratosphere get warmer in the Antarctic spring, the ozone depletion begins to become apparent, and the polar vortex diminishes and breaks down. Ozone levels typically stabilize by December.

Copernicus has been watching the ozone layer with sophisticated satellite and computer modeling technology, and the monitoring service says that the area seems to be slowly recovering — but that it will not fully recover until the 2060s or 2070s.

This is due to the amount of time it takes for the elimination of chlorofluorocarbons, the chemicals that cause the hole, to have a lasting effect on the environment. The chemicals, which were initially regulated by the landmark Montreal Protocol first signed in 1987, are expected to be entirely eliminated by 2030.

The Climate Crisis has grown undeniable

The climate crisis has become increasingly undeniable, with recent extreme weather events and scientific reports pointing to the severity of the issue.

Now the world’s Christian leaders have united to warn of the “catastrophic consequences” of climate change, saying now is a “critical moment” for the planet’s future.

Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, released the joint statement ahead of November’s Cop26 climate summit.

In their first-ever joint statement, the three clerics urged people to play their part in “choosing life” for the planet and called on leaders to make decisions that will allow a transition to “just and sustainable economies.”

They also warned of the urgency of environmental sustainability and the impact climate change has on poverty, urging global co-operation on the issue.

The statement said: “We call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.

“This is the first time that the three of us feel compelled to address together the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on persistent poverty, and the importance of global cooperation,” it added.

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