The Biggest Ever Hole In The Ozone Layer Over The Arctic Has Now Closed
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Researchers have confirmed that the largest-ever tear in the ozone layer over the Arctic has repaired itself.
The hole, which had formed earlier this year, was being tracked by a team at Copernicus' Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) who said a tear this big had not been seen in nearly a decade.
Typically sitting between nine and 22 miles above the Earth's surface, the ozone layer and is a protective shield that is responsible for absorbing the sun's UV rays - too many of which can be harmful to life on the planet.
Although some people had theorised that the unusual tear had been created by human activity, the research team at CAMS believe this is probably not the case, and that it was actually caused by an unusually strong and long-lasting polar vortex.
This means that it’s unlikely that the reduction in pollution as a result of the coronavirus lockdown is the reason the hole has closed up - but we can probably agree that less air pollution is a good thing regardless!
A spokesperson for CAMS wrote on Twitter: "The unprecedented 2020 northern hemisphere #OzoneHole has come to an end. The #PolarVortex split, allowing #ozone-rich air into the Arctic, closely matching last week's forecast from the #CopernicusAtmosphere Monitoring Service.
"COVID19 and the associated lockdowns probably had nothing to do with this. It's been driven by an unusually strong and long-lived polar vortex, and isn't related to air quality changes."
Although the tear above the Arctic is probably not caused by human activity - the one that sits over the Antarctic is.
As a result of high levels of pollutant chemicals such as chlorine and bromine, an enormous hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic has formed every year since it was first noted in the 1980s.
There is a spot of good news regarding this too though - last year scientists monitoring the hole noted that it had reached its smallest size since being discovered.Lead author of a recent study of the Antarctic ozone hole, Antara Banerjee, a CIRES Visiting Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder who works in the Chemical Sciences Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said: "This study adds to growing evidence showing the profound effectiveness of the Montreal Protocol.
"Not only has the treaty spurred healing of the ozone layer, it's also driving recent changes in Southern Hemisphere air circulation patterns."
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