The hole in the ozone layer over the Southern Hemisphere has grown significantly over the last two weeks, according to scientists at the European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS). In fact, it is bigger than Antartica. Every spring, due to human-made chemicals, the Earth's protective ozone layer depletes and produces a hole over the South Pole.
According to scientists, the ozone layer, which deflects ultraviolet rays from the Sun, is estimated to be between 14 and 35 km above the Earth's surface. The hole may appear to form spontaneously, but toxic substances injected into the stratosphere significantly impact its size and intensity.
The ozone hole size was similar to last year's at the start of the season, but it developed significantly in the final two weeks, surpassing 75 per cent of ozone holes at that point in the season since 1979.
The ozone hole may continue to develop slightly over the following two or three weeks, according to Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the CAMS, as reported by Hindustan Times.
"At the start of the season this year, the ozone hole grew as expected. It appears to be comparable to last year's, which was not very extraordinary until early September. Still, later in the season transformed into one of the largest and longest-lasting ozone holes in our data record," Peuch added.
'Larger Than Usual'
"Now, according to our projections, this year's hole has grown to be larger than usual," he continued.
CAMS continuously monitors the ozone layer to follow the annual chemical ozone depletion that contributes to the hole's creation. The Montreal Protocol, enacted in 1987, resulted in a ban on halocarbons, a class of chemicals implicated for aggravating the annual ozone hole.
Experts estimate that while the ozone layer is beginning to heal, ozone-depleting compounds found in refrigerants and spray cans will not be removed from the atmosphere until the 2060s.
The Ozone Layer
The ozone layer is a gaseous screen that protects the Earth's stratosphere from harmful ultraviolet radiation. It absorbs the sun's harmful UV radiation, which can cause skin cancer, eye damage, cataracts, and immunological suppression, as well as harm plants and marine life.