Scientists have detected what may be the largest hole in the ozone layer ever recorded over the North Pole.
The ozone hole covers an area roughly three times the size of Greenland, scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA) said in a statement (opens in new tab), and could expose people living at far northern latitudes to high levels of ultraviolet radiation if it grows much larger. Fortunately, the hole looks likely to close on its own in the next few weeks, the ESA researchers said.
Holes form in the ozone layer — which is a sheet of gas in Earth's atmosphere that absorbs much of the harmful ultraviolet light emitted by the sun — every year over Antarctica due to seasonal changes in cloud cover. Ozone holes over the Arctic, however, are rarer. The last time an Arctic ozone hole opened was in 2011, and it was significantly smaller than the hole seen now, the researchers said.
"From my point of view, this is the first time you can speak about a real ozone hole in the Arctic," Martin Dameris, an atmospheric scientist at the German Aerospace Center, told Nature (opens in new tab).
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The Antarctic ozone hole opens every year due to the combination of frigid temperatures and man-made pollution. When temperatures plummet at the start of Antarctica's winter, high-altitude clouds form over the South Pole. Industrial chemical pollutants, including chlorine and bromine, trigger reactions in these clouds that eat away at the surrounding ozone gas.
The Arctic, which has more variable temperatures, doesn't usually see the same ozone-depleting conditions, the researchers said. But this year, powerful winds trapped cold air in a "polar vortex" above the Arctic. That led to colder temperatures and more high-altitude clouds than normal. Hence, North Pole ozone-depletion began.
Fortunately, with the sun slowly getting higher over the Arctic, atmospheric temperatures are already beginning to increase, which means the conditions causing the ozone hole should soon change, the researchers said. However, if the hole continues to expand south, Arctic residents — like those living in southern Greenland — may need to apply sunscreen to prevent UV damage.
The much larger Antarctic ozone hole will remain a seasonal feature, as it has for roughly four decades, though that hole has begun shrinking in size. A 2018 assessment by the World Meteorological Organization found that the southern ozone hole has been shrinking by about 1% to 3% per decade since the year 2000, with the 2019 hole measuring smaller than it ever has since 1982. The shrinking of the southern ozone hole is thanks largely to a global ban on ozone-depleting chemicals initiated in 1987, though some key nations still do not appear to be participating. According to a 2018 investigation, factories in China still appeared to be pumping large quantities of ozone-depleting chemicals into the atmosphere.
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Originally published on Live Science.
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The earths magnetic pole,is on the move, but it has moved before, we just do not know its effects on Polar stratospheric clouds. Earths magnetic field at the poles is orthogonal to the hole, and to the stratospheric layer, but no one has been interested in investigating that aspect. I am not saying its not a part of the problem, I am just saying
What has been investigated/modeled and published is Dr Drew Schindell's model of ozone destruction that was published and predicted the opening of a polar stratospheric ozone hole, over 15 years ago.
The mechanism does not involve CFCs it involves a fewer counter intuitive steps: Try and follow closely. As many times as I have tried to explain it, all the counter intuitive steps still make my brain hurt:
Dr Schindells model, starts with the burning of jet fuel by airliners in the stratosphere to save fuel. They deposit carbon-dioxide, water, and some other trace pollutants, this model does not address contrails, because contrail contaminants have never been found in fuel sources. The trace contaminants such as sulfur and other fuel contaminants and carbon-dioxide also do not significantly contribute to the model:
The primary contribution to the model is water vapor, that gets added to the stratosphere, and according to published studies at NASA Goddard, travels to the poles rather quickly, from 480 to 1000 miles an hour. ( Jet stream speeds. )
The next step, and the key is that the water vapor then stabilizes the polar stratospheric clouds ( counter-intuitive ), and as a results, the temperature drops ( counter-intuitive ) and prepares a scenario where the first light of spring hits ( in the Arctic, its April 15th, in the southern hemi-sphere, its October 15th, 6 months later ), and the combination of 1) water vapor and 2) stable stratospheric clouds ( alto stratos, and nimbo stratus ), 3) warmer temperatures and 4) first light of spring, produces a catalytic reaction of destruction of ozone.
25 year ago, this was discussed at GEOS San Francisco as a speculative model, then it became a model worthy of investigation, which after a few dozen papers, became a theory that needed a few pieces of investigative work done, ( like the speed of travel for water vapor in the jet stream ).
22 years ago, it became the dominant theory of investigation, and a few years later, accepted as the most probable explanation for the model of investigation behind the destruction of the ozone and the opening of the ozone hole.
A few things have happened since:
1) The NASA group for investigation for the atmospheric effects of aviation was shut down a long time ago.
2) Greenhouse gases/CFCs have been detected in contravention to the Montreal protocol.
3) A citizen scientist who measured the ozone hole over the Antarctic, Jim Scanlon who popularized this information, has passed away. He wrote for a paper called 'The Coastal Post' which has since gone offline.
4) The amount of stratospheric traffic in the North Atlantic has steadily increased, increasing the water vapor deposition near the North Pole,
5) The aviation industry has had an unprecedented slow down, due to the current pandemic, impacting pollution, cloud cover and stratospheric water deposition.
6) Dr Drew Schindel has left NASA Goddard, and is now employed at Duke University.
Today is April 14th, and some time in the next few days, a maximum area will be uncovered in the polar regions, due, according to this theory, to water vapor from jets, stabilization of the polar vortex, the dropping of polar stratospheric temperatures, and the first light of spring. So its important to monitor the satellite images over the next few days.
https://globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectures/Perry_Samson_lectures/evolution_atm/O2Photolysis.jpgThe ice/vapor mix zone is where the greatest amount of ozone is both created and destroyed from both the refraction and the oxygen boost vapor provides. People didn't carve and build housing from stone on whimsy, radiation was a problem.