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2017 Ozone Hole Smallest Since 1988 - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

2017 Ozone Hole Smallest Since 1988

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Scientists with NASA and NOAA recently announced that the ozone hole that forms annually over Antarctica is the smallest since 1988. The lowest amount of ozone depletion since 1988 was also observed. The thickness of the ozone layer and the vertical distribution above the South Pole is monitored by regularly releasing weather balloons. Over the last two years these instruments have measured lower depletion rates.

The ozone hole reached it's peak extent on September 11th this year. The hole covered an area two and half times the size of the United States - stretching 7.6 million square miles between twelve and nineteen miles above Antarctica. This is still large compared to when the hole was first discovered in the 1980s.

Researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said the smaller ozone hole extent in 2016 and 2017 is due to natural variability and not rapid healing of the ozone layer. Warmer-than-average conditions have been observed in the stratosphere. The above-average conditions have been influenced by the unstable and warmer Antarctic vortex, which has minimized the formation of polar clouds in the lower stratosphere. These clouds are one of the first steps leading to chlorine- and bromine-catalyzed reacts that destroy ozone.

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