Largest ever ozone hole over the North Pole comes to a close

James Marshall
May 3, 2020

The discovery had come as a piece of good news during these stressful coronavirus times.

If the global pandemic wasn't enough, there was more bad news in early April this year: the largest ozone hole ever recorded. Higher up in the stratosphere, ozone accumulates at altitudes between 10 and 50 km where it acts as a shield against the harmful ultraviolet rays, which can cause cancer.

The record-breaking hole would only have posed a direct threat to humans if it had of moved further south to populated areas. The unexpected ozone hole that opened over the Arctic this spring finally closed, putting environmentalists' hearts at ease. According to scientists, this did not happen because of low pollution levels due to the coronavirus lockdown across the world. "It was driven by an unusually strong and long-lasting polar vortex, and is unrelated to changes in air quality". This one emerged suddenly after a polar vortex trapped extremely cold air in the atmosphere above the North Pole.

However, fortunately, there has been some good news from there too: a year ago, the ozone hole above the Antarctic was observed to be at its smallest since it was first discovered. The unique cocktail of the powerful vortex and low temperatures generates Stratospheric clouds that react with CFCs and destroy the Ozone layer in the process. The lack of the Ozone layer can have severe implications for people living directly under it.

Man-made chemicals in the atmosphere are known to cause ozone holes in some cases.

That's, in large, due to the cause of the ozone hole, to begin with.

The last time such a strong chemical ozone depletion was observed in the Arctic occurred almost a decade ago, in 2011. No sizable hole that comes near this caliber has been reported in the Arctic since 2011. Square hole over Antarctica has decreased significantly, reports the scientific journal N+1.

This year, the strong and stable polar vortex has caused the concentration of more ozone-depleting chemicals than usual, which added to the extreme cold has created the conditions for this unprecedented hole. Whatever information has been collected now suggests that this short-lived hole in the Ozone will not have any effects on the summer of the Northern Hemisphere; however, some of the areas it has passed through have human populations which could be bearing the brunt of this phenomenon.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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