#TWCExplainer: 2020 #Ozone Hole Among Deepest and Largest! Why Are Scientists Not Worried?


(📸: ESA)
Every year, fluctuations are observed in the #ozone hole due to variation in stratospheric temperatures—the second layer of Earth’s atmosphere. As per recent observations, this year’s ozone hole is recorded to be one of the largest & deepest, as compared to the last 15 years.
However, despite the alarming changes, not many scientists are concerned about any major impacts on #Earth, mainly because it appears to be just a seasonal phenomenon.

#OzoneLayer #OzoneHole
According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the ozone hole increases in size from August to October—every year—and reaches its maximum between mid-September and mid-October.

#OzoneLayer #OzoneHole
Depletion of #ozone

The ozone hole—not a typical hole, but a drop in thickness—is predominantly present at the southern hemisphere of the globe. The hole refers to a region of depleted ozone in the stratosphere—an atmospheric layer that extends from 10 km to 50 km altitude.
The depletion mainly happens when the temperature over the stratosphere starts to vary.

#OzoneLayer #OzoneHole
The polar vortex is a weather system responsible for delivering cold air to the Polar Regions and this year scientists have recorded it to be one of the strongest.

(Image credit: Robert Schwarz/University of Minnesota/NASA)
As per the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the polar stratospheric clouds formed over ozone can easily contribute to the chemical destruction of ozone when the temperature drops to -78°C.

#OzoneLayer #OzoneHole
The clouds contain ice crystals that can destroy the ozone when mixed with sunlight. This kick starts a chemical reaction, which turns non-reactive compounds in ozone into reactive ones.

#OzoneLayer #OzoneHole
Variability of the ozone hole

The measurements of the present hole were obtained from the ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, which revealed the size to be around 24 million sq km on October 2.

#OzoneLayer #OzoneHole
The 2019’s ozone hole, on the other hand, was recorded to be the smallest in the last 30 years. Last year, the hole reached its peak at 16. 4 million square kilometres on September 8, 2019, and then shrank to 10 million square kilometres for the rest of September and October 2019
As per the ESA, the variability of the ozone hole size is largely determined through the strength of a strong wind band around Antarctica. The strong wind band occurs due to Earth’s rotation and temperature difference between polar and moderate latitudes.

#OzoneLayer #OzoneHole
If this wind band is relatively strong, then the exchange of air masses between polar and latitudes can be restricted. Therefore, this keeps the polar latitudes isolated, indicating a strong polar vortex.

#OzoneLayer #OzoneHole
A significant widening of the ozone hole was observed by studies way back between the 1970s and 1980s, and the primary cause of this drastic depletion was identified as the significant increase in the use of damaging chlorofluorocarbons in products like refrigerators.
However, after the successful implementation of the Montreal Protocol, the use of such Ozone Depleting Substances has been brought under control.

#OzoneLayer #OzoneHole
Despite small spikes in usage once in a while, damage to
#ozone due to human-made chemicals have largely been contained since the 2000s. The current variability, by and large, appears to be natural and a quick recovery is expected as the season changes.

#OzoneLayer #OzoneHole

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