Breakdown: Why the hole in the ozone layer is shrinking

Breakdown: Why the ozone hole is shrinking

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After a spike in ozone levels and a growing ozone hole in the stratosphere in 2000, there has been a slow decrease in size over the past ten years.

Due to an environmental agreement called the Montreal Protocol, the amount of chlorine and bromine in the atmosphere has been greatly reduced, which has resulted in the overall shrinking of the ozone layer hole. Levels have fallen 16% since 2000.

The Antarctic ozone hole forms during the Southern Hemisphere’s late winter. This is because of more sunshine due to the sun angle, which causes ozone-depleting reactions. These reactions involve chemically active forms of chlorine and bromine, which are man-made compounds. In warmer temperatures, fewer polar stratospheric clouds form and they don’t persist as long, which limits the ozone-depletion process.

According to NASA, the smallest ozone hole on record was in 2019. This was because of warmer atmospheric conditions in Antarctica that year.

2020 will mark the 12th largest ozone hole on record, but levels are still notably lower with this year being the 14th lowest for ozone levels in 33 years. The difference in size between 2019 and 2020 shows how weather conditions and varying temperatures impact the ozone hole.

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