GENEVA – The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica has grown to its largest and deepest level in years, the European Union’s Earth observation program reported Tuesday.
Experts from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service noted that a strong, stable, cold-air polar vortex has caused the expansion, and called for international efforts to be redoubled to ensure nations meet an agreement to phase out substance use. chemicals that deplete the ozone layer.
Vincent-Henri Peuch, who runs the service, said in a statement that the hole in the ozone layer “definitely” was one of the largest in the past 15 years.
The depletion of the ozone layer on the Antarctic continent was first captured in 1985.
In Geneva, World Meteorological Organization spokeswoman Clare Nullis said that the hole in the ozone layer begins to expand each August, at the beginning of spring in Antarctica, and peaks in October.
“The air has been below minus 78 degrees Celsius, and this is the temperature you need to form stratospheric clouds, and it is quite a complex process,” Nullis said during a UN briefing. “The ice in these clouds triggers a reaction that can destroy the ozone zone.
So that’s why we’re seeing that big hole in the ozone layer this year. “
The Copernicus service said that the Sun’s energy as it rises over the pole causes the release of chlorine and bromine atoms in the polar vortex, which rapidly destroy ozone molecules, causing the hole to form.
Nullis said that despite the hole, experts still believe that the ozone layer is slowly recovering following the adoption of the Montreal Protocol, a treaty signed in 1987 that is aimed at phasing out ozone-depleting substances. He also pointed to projections that the ozone layer will return in 2060 to the levels it had in 1980.