Scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have confirmed the ozone hole over the
Antarctic this September is not only much smaller than it was in 2000 and 2001,
but has split into two separate “holes.”
The researchers stressed the smaller hole is due to this year’s peculiar
stratospheric weather patterns and that a single year’s unusual pattern does not
make a long-term trend. Moreover, they said, the data are not conclusive that
the ozone layer is recovering.
Paul Newman, a lead ozone researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, Md., said this year, warmer-than-normal temperatures around the edge
of the polar vortex that forms annually in the stratosphere over Antarctica are
responsible for the smaller ozone loss.
Estimates for the last two weeks of the size of the Antarctic Ozone Hole (the
region with total column ozone below 220 Dobson Units), from the NASA Earth
Probe Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (EPTOMS) and the NOAA-16 Solar
Backscatter Ultraviolet instrument (SBUV/2), are around 15 million square
kilometers (6 million square miles). These values are well below the more-than
24 million sq. km. (9 million sq. mi.) seen the last six years for the same time
On September 24, 2002, the Antarctic ozone hole split into two holes for the
first time since satellite measurements have been taken. In the image above, based on
data acquired by EPTOMS, Dark blue and violet colors indicate the
hole, an area with at least 20% less ozone than normal.