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 ozone layer’s holes have grown significantly in the last week after an average start
Researchers from the EU’s satellite monitoring service say it is larger than usual and potentially deeper
Experts say that as the ozone layer recovers, it will take decades for depletion to spread.
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.
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.