CAMS observes three unusual Antarctic ozone hole seasons in a row

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ECMWF’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) has reported that the 2022 Antarctic ozone hole took longer to close than usual and that it was relatively large compared to recent decades.

CAMS says this was particularly remarkable given the behavior is similar to ozone holes of 2020 and 2021, but differs from what had been observed in the previous 40 years.

The Antarctic ozone hole usually starts opening during the Southern Hemisphere spring (in late September) and begins to decline during October, before typically coming to an end during November. CAMS data from the last three years has shown that the ozone hole has remained larger than usual throughout November, coming to an end well into December.

Commenting on this new behavior, Vincent-Henri Peuch, CAMS director, said, “There are several factors influencing the extent and duration of the ozone hole each year, particularly the strength of the Polar vortex and the temperatures in the stratosphere. The last three years have been marked by strong vortices and low temperatures, which has led to consecutive large and long-lasting ozone hole episodes. There is a possible connection with climate change, which tends to cool the stratosphere. It is quite unexpected though to see three unusual ozone holes in a row. It is certainly something to look into further.”

The date of the ozone hole closure in 2020 and 2021 was December 28 and December 23 respectively, and scientists expect that this year’s hole will close within the coming days.

Heatmap showing the extent of each Antarctic ozone hole below the 60th parallel south since 1979 and the date. The last seasons have been unusually long. (Data for 2022 is recorded until December 7) – Credit: CAMS

The last three ozone holes have been not only exceptionally persistent, but also had a relatively large extension. During these three years the ozone hole has been above the 15,000,000km2 (similar to the size of Antarctica) during most of November.

However, despite these recent relatively large ozone holes, there are consistent signs of improvement of the ozone layer. Thanks to the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, the concentrations of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) have been slowly but steadily declining since the late 1990s. It is expected that in 50 years their concentrations in the stratosphere will have returned to the pre-industrial levels and ozone holes will no longer be experienced regardless of Polar vortex and temperature conditions.

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, editor-in-chief

Dan first joined UKi Media & Events in 2014 having spent the early years of his career in the recruitment industry. As editor, he now produces content for Meteorological Technology International, unearthing the latest technological advances and research methods for the publication of each exciting new issue. When he’s not reporting on the latest meteorological news, Dan can be found on the golf course or apprehensively planning his next DIY project.

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