Alarming! Ozone hole over Antarctica is one of the biggest ever recorded – Times of India

Alarming! Ozone hole over Antarctica is one of the biggest ever recorded – Times of India
  • PublishedOctober 7, 2023


Large-scale scans show that the ozone hole over Antarctica is growing larger every day. This was observed through the Copernicus Sentinel 5P Satellite, revealing that this year’s ozone hole over Antarctica is one of the biggest on record, as massive as three times the size of Brazil. In a picture posted by the European Space Agency, a hole, known as an “ozone-depleting area,” reached a size of 26 million square kilometres on September 16, 2023.
The size of the ozone hole fluctuates during the year. From August to October, it grows larger, reaching its peak in mid-September and mid-October. This happens because the temperature in the southern hemisphere rises significantly, leading to ozone depletion. The polar vortex weakens and breaks down during this time, returning to normal only in December.

The Copernicus Sentinel 5P satellite, launched in October 2017, is the first satellite dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere. It carries an advanced imaging spectrometer known as Tropomi, which can detect the unique “fingerprints” of different atmospheric gases across the electromagnetic spectrum. Tropomi acts as an environmental detective, providing precise information about our planet’s atmosphere. By analyzing these fingerprints, it creates detailed images that reveal various pollutants, greatly improving our ability to monitor air quality and environmental conditions.

Diego Loyola, a senior scientist at Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), highlighted the accuracy of Sentinel-5P’s ozone data, which helps closely monitor the ozone layer’s changes. This data supplements the information collected from European satellites over nearly 30 years, enhancing our understanding of the ozone layer.


The Sentinel-5P satellite measures ozone levels and sends this data to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), serving as Europe’s ozone monitoring hub. CAMS quickly processes and uses this information to understand and predict atmospheric conditions and raise alarms if ozone levels become concerning.


What causes Ozone hole’s depletion?
The size of the ozone hole depends on temperature differences between polar and moderate latitudes, influenced by the Coriolis forces caused by the Earth’s rotation. Unusual ozone patterns, possibly triggered by the eruption of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai in January 2022, may have contributed to this year’s intense ozone hole. The volcanic eruption injected water vapour and smoke into the stratosphere, leading to increased cloud and CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) formation, which likely accelerated ozone depletion.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the widespread use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in products like refrigerators and aerosol cans damaged the ozone layer high up in the atmosphere, resulting in the formation of the ozone hole over Antarctica. In response, the Montreal Protocol was established in 1987 to phase out the production and consumption of these harmful substances, leading to a gradual recovery of the ozone layer.

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