The hole in the ozone layer has begun to form early this year, prompting warnings that a larger-than-average hole may further warm the Southern Ocean while the level of Antarctic sea ice is at a record low.
Satellite data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts suggests the hole has already begun to form over Antarctica.
Dr Martin Jucker, a lecturer at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, said the hole usually began forming at the end of September, peaking in October before closing in November or December.
“Starting in August is certainly very early,” he said. “We don’t usually expect that.”
The Antarctic ozone hole is an annual thinning of the stratosphere’s ozone layer, which has a high concentration of ozone molecules that absorb ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The hole has been “healing” over time, following the 1989 Montreal protocol which eliminated 99% of ozone-depleting chemicals, such as chlorofluorocarbons. Ozone levels over the Antarctic are expected to bounce back to 1980 levels by 2066. [Continue reading…]