The southern hemisphere’s ozone storage hole “bigger than usual” this year

Researchers say that the hole in the earth’s protective ozone layer over the southern hemisphere is larger than usual this year and already exceeds the size of Antarctica.

The European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service said that the so – called ozone hole, which appears every year during the spring of the southern hemisphere, has grown significantly in the last week after an average start.

“Forecasts show that this year’s hole has developed into a rather larger than usual one,” said Vincent-Henri Peuch, who heads the EU’s satellite monitoring service.

“We are looking at a fairly large – and potentially also deep – ozone hole,” he said.

Atmospheric ozone absorbs ultraviolet light from the sun.

Its absence means that more of this high-energy radiation reaches the earth, where it can damage living cells.

Mr Peuch noted that last year’s ozone hole also started strangely but then became one of the longest recorded.

The Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987, led to one ban on a group of chemicals called halocarbons that were accused of exacerbating the annual ozone hole.

Experts say that while the ozone layer is beginning to recover, it will probably take until the 2060s before the ozone-depleting substances used in refrigerants and spray cans disappear completely from the atmosphere.

AP

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