A giant hole in the ozone layer was located over Argentina

In 2023 the thinning formed earlier than in an average season.

8 de October de 2023 11:57

The “ozone hole” is the thinning of the ozone layer that occurs over Antarctica between spring and summer.

According to the European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), the 2023 Antarctic ozone hole has had an early start

The “ozone hole” is the thinning of the ozone layer that occurs over Antarctica between spring and summer. It can also cover South America, especially southern Argentina and Chile, as happened at the end of September, according to reported the National Weather Service.

It is suspected that the 2023 ozone hole could be the largest since 2015. In the first week of October it could advance again over Argentine territory, although it is not yet confirmed, SMN communicator Cindy Fernández told Infobae.

As protection from the ozone layer is reduced, the risk of damage to people from exposure to the Sun's ultraviolet rays increases. Therefore, it is necessary to wear a hat, appropriate sunglasses and sunscreen.

Although it is said to be on track to recover in the next four decades due to the global phase-out of the chemicals that deplete it.

Monitoring made it possible to detect earlier than average development in August 2023. It quickly reached an area of more than 16 million kilometers starting on August 29.

 

What is the ozone hole

The ozone layer serves as a shield to protect the Earth against the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Life on Earth has been protected for millions of years by a vital poison layer in the atmosphere that is composed of ozone. It serves as a shield to protect the Earth against harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

The total column of ozone is usually expressed in Dobson Units. When these values are below 220 units, we speak of the presence of an “ozone hole.” It is called that because in satellite images the area is seen circular.

When the area of the “hole” increases, the southern tip of South America may come under the influence of ozone-poor air masses from Antarctica.

Column ozone minimum values have been below average for much of July and August, but are now returning to more typical values as the area of the ozone hole increases.

This year the ozone hole "has started unusually early, following through July some of the lowest minimum values of total column ozone for the Southern Hemisphere in the last four decades"

What happens to the ozone hole in 2023

Under normal conditions in the stratosphere of the southern hemisphere, the hole begins to form in mid-to-late August, when the Sun rises over the South Pole, and closes towards the end of November.

But in 2023 – according to analyzes by CAMS experts – development has begun unusually early, following through July some of the lowest minimum values of total column ozone for the Southern Hemisphere in the last four decades.

  “Its total area is currently relatively high, although its progression has followed a fairly typical growth pattern ,” European specialists stated in a report.

“The 2023 ozone hole development is the 10th largest for August in the 43-year data set. The ozone hole area and ozone column minimum data showed significant areas of low ozone in early July, which have only been recorded a dozen times in the last four decades,” they wrote.

One of the possible reasons that could explain this unusual start to the ozone hole season is the increase in water vapor contributed to the atmosphere by the eruption of the Hunga Tonga volcano in December 2021 and January 2022.

This mechanism occurs because ozone depletion is fueled by chemical processes that occur in polar stratospheric clouds. These clouds are more likely to form when water vapor levels in the stratosphere are high.

It was also clarified that the ozone-depleting substances that have accumulated in the stratosphere and cause a drastic decrease in the ozone concentration over Antarctica in spring each year are mainly of human origin and had been emitted by various industries since the sixties.

Since the adoption of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, which progressively eliminated new emissions, concentrations of substances in the stratosphere have slowed and there are significant signs of recovery of the ozone layer.

The substances will affect the ozone layer for many decades, as it takes a long time to be removed from the atmosphere.It is expected that in 50 years its concentrations in the stratosphere will have returned to pre-industrial levels and ozone holes will no longer be experienced.

Director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, Vincent-Henri Peuch, commented: “Our ability to provide three-dimensional analysis and forecasts of ozone at the poles is a powerful approach to monitor in real time how ozone holes develop and to evaluate what are the key factors behind what is being observed.”

He considered that the available technology "allows us to know to what extent certain events affect the development of this year's Antarctic ozone hole, such as last year's Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption, which increased the amount of water vapor in the stratosphere." .

By Agenda Malvinas

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