Bad news for the health of the planet and humans: the ozone hole has reached record dimensions, extending three times the size of Brazil or 50 times that of France. This is reported by the broadcaster ‘Bfmtv,’ citing data from the latest observations of the European Space Agency’s Sentinel 5P satellite. According to this data, the hole currently located above Antarctica measures 26 million square kilometers.
Experts have often explained that it is normal to observe fluctuations in the size of the ozone hole, especially when it is located above polar regions. However, last January, they had made an optimistic prediction about the ozone hole’s recovery, stating that it was “on track” to close within four decades. Instead, the latest assessment at the end of September points in a completely different direction: it has reached the largest surface area since observations began in the 1970s.
Typically, from August to October, this size increases in polar regions, reaching a “maximum between mid-September and mid-October.” However, it has never been this significant at this time of year and began forming in August, which is highly unusual. According to experts from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (Cams), the explanation for this alarming size can be found in the heart of the Pacific Ocean.
“The eruption of the Hunga Tonga volcano in January 2022 injected a lot of water vapor into the stratosphere, which reached the southern polar regions only after the ozone hole closed in 2022,” analyzed Antje Inness, a scientist from Cams. However, this water vapor can lead to “increased formation of polar stratospheric clouds, where chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) can react and accelerate the depletion of the ozone layer,” scientists also predict.