Ozone hole shrinks to small­est since dis­cov­ery

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — The ozone hole near the south pole this year is the small­est since it was dis­cov­ered, but it is more due to freak­ish Antarc­tic weather than ef­forts to cut down on pol­lu­tion, NASA re­ported.

This fall, the av­er­age hole in Earth’s pro­tec­tive ozone layer is 3.6 million square miles (9.3 million square kilo­me­ters). That’s down from a peak of 10.3 million square miles (26.6 million square kilo­me­ters) in 2006.

This year’s hole is even smaller than the one first dis­cov­ered in 1985.

“That’s re­ally good news,” NASA sci­en­tist Paul New­man said Tues­day. “That means more ozone over the hemi­sphere, less ul­tra­vi­o­let ra­di­a­tion at the sur­face.”

Earth’s ozone layer shields life on the sur­face from harm­ful so­lar ra­di­a­tion, but man-made chlo­rine com­pounds that can last in the air for 100 years nib­ble at the ozone, cre­at­ing thin­ning and a gap over the South­ern Hemi­sphere.

The hole reaches its peak in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber and dis­ap­pears by late December un­til the next spring in the South­ern Hemi­sphere.

The 1987 in­ter­na­tional Mon­treal Pro­to­col — the only United Na­tions treaty rat­i­fied by ev­ery coun­try on Earth — banned many of the chlo­rine com­pounds used in re­frig­er­ants and aerosols. The ban re­sulted in a slightly smaller ozone hole in re­cent years, but this year’s dra­matic shrink­ing isn’t from those ef­forts, New­man said.

AP-Yon­hap

This im­age made avail­able by NASA shows a map of a hole in the ozone layer over Antarc­tica, Sunday. The pur­ple and blue col­ors in­di­cate the least amount of ozone, and the yel­lows and reds show the most.

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