Ozone hole smallest in 40 years, says NASA

ORLANDO - Abnormal weather patterns in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica dramatically limited ozone depletion in September and October.

This resulted in the smallest ozone hole observed since 1982, NASA and NOAA scientists said.

READ: 20th-century warming 'unmatched' in 2,000 years

The space agency has been using its Aura satellite, the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite and NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System NOAA-20 satellite to measure ozone from space.

Susan Strahan, an atmospheric scientist, said it is the third time in the last 40 years that weather systems have caused warm temperatures that limit ozone depletion.

"It’s a rare event that we’re still trying to understand," said Strahan.

"If the warming hadn’t happened, we’d likely be looking at a much more typical ozone hole."

READ: Ozone layer is healing: Nasa

But don't think the atmospheric ozone is suddenly on a fast track to recovery.

“It’s great news for ozone in the Southern Hemisphere,” said Paul Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

“But it’s important to recognise that what we’re seeing this year is due to warmer stratospheric temperatures."

As of 16 October 16, the ozone hole above Antarctica remained small but stable and is expected to gradually dissipate in the coming weeks.

What is ozone?

Ozone is a highly reactive molecule comprised of three oxygen atoms that occurs naturally in small amounts.

Roughly 11 to 40 kilometres above Earth’s surface - in a layer of the atmosphere called the stratosphere - the ozone layer is a sunscreen, shielding the planet from potentially harmful ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer and cataracts, suppress immune systems and also damage plants.

- Information provided by NASA. Read the original article here.


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