Scientists from the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service said that the ozone hole over the South Pole is now larger than Antarctica.
The ozone layer over Antarctica depletes every year and forms a hole during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring from August to October, but Copernicus said in a statement on Sep. 16 that the hole had grown unexpectedly large.
While the hole grew as forecasted in the beginning of the year, it “has evolved into a rather larger than usual one,” said Copernicus director Vincent-Henri Peuch.
Copernicus reported that the ozone hole is now larger than 75 percent of previous ozone holes that were at their maximum season between mid-September and mid-October.
Holes in the ozone layer are usually caused by chemicals released into the stratosphere. According to Copernicus and NASA, ozone levels usually return to normal during December when high temperatures from late spring weaken the cold air that enables chemicals to deplete the ozone.
While the ozone layer is showing signs of recovery, Copernicus said that it will not fully recover until the 2060s since the effects of phasing out harmful chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) will take time to manifest.
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