Every year, CAMS tracks the yearly chemical destruction of ozone, which causes a hole in our planet’s ozone layer and other problems.
“CAMS scientists have been closely monitoring the development of this year´s ozone hole over the South Pole, which has now reached an extent larger than Antarctica. After a rather standard start, the 2021 ozone hole has considerably grown in the last two weeks and is now larger than 75% of ozone holes at that stage in the season since 1979,” said the scientists.
Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, comments: “This year, the ozone hole developed as expected at the start of the season. It seems pretty similar to last year’s, which also wasn’t exceptional in September, but then turned into one of the longest-lasting ozone holes in our data record later in the season. Now our forecasts show that this year’s hole has evolved into a rather larger than usual one.”
When did it all start?
The Antarctic ozone hole was first discovered in the 1980s and has been a source of controversy ever since. Chemicals have degraded the protective layer, allowing dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiation to enter the region.
“In the late 20th century, human emissions of chemical substances called halocarbons adversely affected the number of ozone molecules in the atmosphere, most notably resulting in the dramatic annual ozone hole over the Antarctic region. The Montreal Protocol, which came into force in 1987, has curbed the number of halocarbons in the atmosphere, resulting in the slow recovery of the ozone layer,” read a statement by CAMS.
Ban on halocarbons
The ozone layer has begun to recover since the use of halocarbons was outlawed, but it is a slow process that will not be complete until the 2060s or 2070s.
World Ozone Day
In remembrance of the collective action pledged as part of the Montreal Protocol, countries celebrated World Ozone Day on September 16 to help save life on Earth. On the same day, the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service revealed the details of the large hole.
Ozone holes may seem normal, but this year is significantly larger than previous years. This year’s ozone hole is larger than the continent of Antarctica.
What is the Ozone layer?
The ozone layer is the area of the earth’s atmosphere where ozone gas concentrations are the highest. Ultraviolet light strikes the earth and most of that energy is absorbed by the Ozone layer. The ozone layer is thicker at the poles than at the equator.
Importance of Ozone layer
Ozone shields the Earth from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Life on Earth would be extremely difficult if the ozone layer didn’t exist in the atmosphere. Ultraviolet radiation kills plants and planktons, which are the food source for most marine life. The weakened Ozone Layer shield would make humans more vulnerable to skin cancer, cataracts, and weakened immune systems, among other ailments and conditions.
Montreal Protocol on Ozone Layer depletion
Ozone-depleting substances are controlled by the Montreal Protocol, a multilateral environmental agreement (ODS). It came into effect on that date, back in 1987. The Montreal Protocol’s 28th Meeting of the Parties, held in Kigali, Rwanda, on October 15, 2016, agreed to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Countries agreed to add HFCs to the list of controlled substances and approved a schedule for the gradual reduction of 80-85 percent by the late 2040s.