Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Antarctica’s Ozone Hole expands mid-spring since 2001


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ozone Layer and Ozone Hole

Mains level: NA


Central Idea

  • Recent research published in the journal Nature Communications has revealed a concerning trend in the Antarctic ozone layer during mid-spring (October).
  • Contrary to previously reported recovery trends in total ozone, the core of the Antarctic ozone in mid-spring has experienced a significant 26% reduction since 2004.

Ozone Layer and Ozone Hole

Location Stratosphere, approximately 10-30 km above Earth’s surface.
Composition Composed of ozone (O3) molecules.

Unit of measurement: Dobsob Unit (DU)

Function Acts as a protective shield, absorbing and blocking a significant portion of harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
Importance Essential for protecting life on Earth by preventing excessive UV radiation, which can harm living organisms and the environment.
Ozone-depleting Substances Threatened by ODS like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, and other synthetic compounds commonly used in refrigeration, air conditioning, and aerosol propellants.
Montreal Protocol An international treaty adopted in 1987 to phase out the production and consumption of ODS, resulting in significant recovery of the ozone layer.
Current Status The ozone layer is in the process of recovery due to the success of the Montreal Protocol.
Environmental Impact Protects ecosystems, prevents skin cancer, cataracts, and other health issues in humans.
Additional Facts • The size of the ozone hole over Antarctica varies annually, opening in August and closing in November or December.

• Special winds caused by the Earth’s rotation create a unique climate over Antarctica, preventing mixing with surrounding air.

• When these winds subside, the hole closes.

Shift in Ozone Trends

  • Mid-Spring Ozone Depletion: The study’s findings reveal a notable decline in mid-spring (October) ozone levels within the middle stratospheric layer, contrary to previous expectations of recovery.
  • Early Spring Recovery: Surprisingly, early spring (September) still shows slight ozone increases or a modest recovery of the ozone hole.

Implications of Ozone Variability

  • Antarctic Stratospheric Ozone: Antarctic stratospheric ozone plays a critical role in influencing climate patterns across the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Understanding Ozone Variability: Ongoing research aims to understand the reasons behind the observed ozone variability, particularly in the context of the Southern Hemisphere’s atmospheric changes.

Key Findings

  • Recovery Trends Re-evaluated: When considering satellite data from 2022, previously reported recovery trends in Antarctic spring total ozone, observed since 2001, no longer hold.
  • Middle Stratosphere Impact: The middle stratosphere has witnessed continued, significant ozone reduction since 2004, culminating in a 26% loss within the core of the ozone hole.
  • Potential Causes: The study suggests that changes in the mesosphere, the atmospheric layer above the stratosphere and the ozone layer, may be driving this reduction.
  • Major triggers: Scientists speculate that the extensive ozone hole this year may be linked to volcanic eruptions in Hunga Tonga, Tonga, between December 2022 and January 2023.

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