The ozone hole over the South Pole is now bigger than Antarctica

A map showing the ozone hole above the South Pole on 15/09/2021 Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service/ECMWF
In the last week, the hole in the ozone layer which forms each year over the South Pole has become larger than Antarctica.

Between August and October in the southern hemisphere's spring season, the Antarctic region experiences a depletion of ozone. The hole reaches its maximum size between mid September and mid October.

The hole this year is larger than 75% of the previous holes in the season, but it is not clear why.


The ozone hole reached an area of 24 million square kilometers at the beginning of October 2020. This was a significant increase over the previous years. The ozone hole was approximately the same size as the previous season at the start of this year's season. However, it has grown significantly in the past week.

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service is closely monitoring this change through satellite observations and computer modeling.

Continue reading: China's recent drop in emissions may accelerate ozone layer recovery

It is not growing as fast as we can see. However, we may still see some growth in October, according to Vincent-Henri Peuch, CAMS.

The sun's UV rays are protected by the ozone layer. Over the past century, synthetic compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons have caused holes in the layer. They can reach the stratosphere and break down chlorine atoms which destroy the ozone molecules.

Although signs of recovery have been seen since the ban on these synthetic compounds, the recovery of the ozone layer remains slow.

Peuch says that it is not because one year is big or small that the process for the recovery of the ozone hole is in danger. It is not easy to gauge the progress of the recovery of ozone layer from year to year. One must look back at many years in order to see the differences.

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