According to this image from NASA, Antarctic ozone hole shrinks to new records. Scientists attribute the change to warmer temperatures in the Antarctic lower stratosphere. Image credit: NASA/NOAA
View the latest status of the ozone layer over the Antarctic, with a focus on the ozone hole. Satellite instruments monitor the ozone layer, and we use their data to create the images that depict the amount of ozone.
The average area covered by the Antarctic ozone hole this year was the second smallest in the last 20 years, according to data from NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites.
The purple and blue colors are where there is the least ozone, and the yellows and reds are where there is more ozone.
The ozone hole reached its maximum size Sept. 22, covering 8.2 million square miles (21.2 million square kilometers), or the area of the United States, Canada and Mexico combined.
The average size of the 2012 ozone hole was 6.9 million square miles (17.9 million square kilometers). The Sept. 6, 2000 ozone hole was the largest on record at 11.5 million square miles (29.9 million square kilometers).
NASA atmospheric scientist Paul Newman of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said:
“The ozone hole mainly is caused by chlorine from human-produced chemicals, and these chlorine levels are still sizable in the Antarctic stratosphere. Natural fluctuations in weather patterns resulted in warmer stratospheric temperatures this year. These temperatures led to a smaller ozone hole.”