Ozone is depleting and forming a hole over Antarctica in the southern hemisphere’s spring, from August to October. It typically reaches its largest size between mid-September and mid-October, according to Copernicus.
After growing “considerably” over the past week, the hole is now larger than 75% of previous years’ ozone holes at the same stage of the season since 1979 and is now larger than the continent on which it overlooks. .
“This year, the ozone hole has developed as expected at the start of the season,” said Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of Copernicus, in a statement.
“Now our forecast shows that this year’s hole has become a rather bigger hole than usual. “
The ozone layer, which is 15 to 35 km above the Earth, protects the planet from ultraviolet rays.
The hole in the southern hemisphere is usually caused by chemicals, such as chlorine and bromine, which migrate through the stratosphere, creating catalytic reactions during the Antarctic winter.
The hole in the ozone layer is linked to the Antarctic Polar Vortex, a swirling band of cold air that moves around the Earth. When high temperatures in the stratosphere begin to rise in late spring, ozone depletion slows down, the polar vortex weakens and eventually breaks down, and by December, ozone levels usually return to the normal.
This ends the isolation of the air created by the polar vortex that forms during the Antarctic winter, allowing chemicals such as chlorine and bromine to deplete the ozone layer, according to Copernicus and the NASA. Ozone levels are usually restored to normal levels in December.
Copernicus is monitoring the ozone layer using computer models and satellite observations, and although the ozone layer shows signs of recovery, Copernicus says it will not fully recover until the 2060s or 2070s .
Indeed, it will take time to see the effects of phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which deplete the ozone layer.
The chemicals were first regulated by the Montreal Protocol – first signed in 1987. They are expected to be phased out by 2030, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
A study published in the journal Nature last month said the world would be on track for a further 2.5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures and a collapse of the ozone layer if CFCs had not been introduced. prohibited by the protocol.
CNN’s Allen Kim and Ashley Strickland contributed to this report.