A “geophysical curiosity” has arisen over the Arctic, resulting in a record-sized ozone hole that could pose a risk to residents of the northern hemisphere if its location changes drastically. According to The Guardian, a team of researchers has been tracking the hole for the past few days.
The hole was created by unusually low atmospheric temperatures above the north pole which created a stable polar vortex. With ozone-depleting chemicals such as chlorine and bromine left relatively stable in the atmosphere – caused by human activity – the big hole formed.
“We have monitored unusual dynamic conditions, which lead to the chemical ozone depletion process,” said Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus atmosphere monitoring service.
” [Those dynamics] allowed lower temperatures and a more stable vortex over the Arctic than usual, which then triggered the formation of polar stratospheric clouds and the catalytic destruction of ozone. “
If the hole were to change location, it could pose an increased risk of sunburn for those living in arctic regions such as Greenland. However, estimates suggest that the hole will only be there for a few more weeks.
An important reminder
The team stressed, however, that it was still too early to say whether the hole was directly linked to the ongoing climate crisis, but has so far shown no signs that it is a direct result of the drastic reduction. emissions observed in the wake of the coronavirus. pandemic.
In fact, temperatures have started to rise in the Arctic region, leading to a slowdown in the depletion of the ozone layer. Polar air mixes with ozone-rich air at low altitudes.
An ever-increasing hold of ozone is found over Antarctica, which last year showed that it has been at its smallest size for decades. However, similar to the current Arctic hole, it has also been described by researchers as “just a gust of time”.
In this most recent case, the south polar vortex began to decompose, resulting in atmospheric temperatures 16 degrees Celsius above average. As NASA reported at the time, the winds dropped from 259 km / h to 180 km / h.
Speaking of the last hole in the Arctic, Peuch said, “This is a reminder that the Montreal Protocol should not be taken for granted, and that ground and satellite observations are essential to avoid a situation where chlorine and bromine levels in the stratosphere could further increase.