PUBLISHED: 14:48, Wed, Nov 4, 2020 | UPDATED: 15:12, Wed, Nov 4, 2020
The ozone layer protects life on our planet by absorbing harmful ultraviolet light. In the 1980s, scientists began to understand Earth’s natural shield was beginning to dramatically thin over the South Pole every spring.
This worrying phenomenon above the Antarctic South Pole continent has come to be known as the ozone hole.
We have a long way to go, but that improvement made a big difference this year
Dr Paul Newman
And NOAA and NASA researchers have confirmed how continually cool temperatures and strong winds have led to a huge Antarctic ozone hole remaining for most of this year.
September 2020 saw the ozone hole reach its peak size of 9.6 million square miles (24.8 million square km) – approximately three times the size of the continental US.
Ozone layer experts also detected an almost total elimination of the chemical compound for several weeks in a four mile ( six km) high column of the stratosphere close to the geographic South Pole.
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Antarctica: The ozone hole will probably continue to pose a problem for our planet’s climate into No (Image: Getty)
Antarctica ozone hole: Continually cool temperatures and strong winds have led to a huge Antarctic ozone hole remaining (Image: NASA)
A map supplied by NASA reveals the true scale and proportions of the ozone hole over the South Pole late last month – the day believed to be when the hole was its largest.
The two agencies are collaborating in tandem to keep tabs on the ozone hole using complementary instrumental methods.
A trio of satellites is responsible for measuring Earth’s ozone hole: NASA’s Aura, the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP and NOAA’s JPSS NOAA-20.
The year 2020 worryingly witnessed the arrival of the 12th-largest ozone hole in 40 years of satellite monitoring.