The ozone hole over the South Pole is now bigger than Antarctica

Purple and blue colors are where there is less ozone, and yellows and reds are where there is more ozone – Photo: NASA Ozone Watch / Courtesy

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

The European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service said Thursday that the so-called ozone hole, which appears every year during the southern hemisphere spring, has grown considerably in the last week after an average start, according CBS News.

“Forecasts show that this year’s hole has become a bigger one than usual,” he said. Vincent-Henri Peuch, Director of the EU Satellite Tracking Service.

What is the ozone layer for?

Atmospheric ozone absorbs ultraviolet light from the sun. Its absence means that more of this high-energy radiation reaches Earth, where it can damage living cells.

The ozone layer in the stratosphere, approximately 7 to 25 miles above the Earth’s surface, acts as a sunscreen, protecting the planet from ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer and cataracts, suppress the immune system, and damage skin. plants and sensitive plankton at the base of global foods.

Peuch noted that last year’s ozone hole also started out irrelevant, but later became one of the longest on record.

The Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987, led to the banning of a group of chemicals called halocarbons to which the exacerbation of the annual ozone hole was attributed.

Experts say that while the ozone layer begins to recover, it is likely not until the 2060s that the substances that pollute and deplete the ozone layer and are used in refrigerants and aerosols, disappear completely from the atmosphere.