Lockdown Effect? Largest Ozone Hole Closed now

Ozone Layer

The European Weather forecasts Center namely Copernicus’ Atmospheric Monitoring Service announced that the largest hole which was observed in the ozone layer over the Arctic has been finally closed. To the unversed, yes, a rare hole has opened up in the ozone layer above the Arctic in March and as per experts, it is the result of unusually low temperatures in the atmosphere above the north pole.

And, unless the big hole moves down south it was not expected to pose any danger. And if it moved further South, the damage would be that southern Greenland people would be at increased risk of sunburn. The news appeared that this hole is expected to disappear altogether in a few weeks. But what really caused the hole is – Low temperatures in the northern polar regions led to an unusual stable polar vortex and the presence of ozone-destroying chemicals such as chlorine and bromine in the atmosphere, from human activities.

However, on Thursday (April 23), Copernicus – the EU’s earth monitoring program – announced the hole had now closed. The experts also clarified that the closing has nothing to do with the reduction in pollution which has caused due to COVID-19 lockdown global wide. Instead because of a polar vortex, which is a swirling air and a low-pressure area, and the high-altitude currents that split in two giving the Arctic region a relative heatwave, with temperatures up to 20ºC higher than is normal for this time of year.

This big hole is very rare and first, we had this type of big hole over Antarctica as the abundance of CFC (a class of compounds) quite high over there. That’s because of Atmospheric mixing. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are nontoxic, nonflammable chemicals containing atoms of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine, which are usually used in the manufacture of aerosol sprays, blowing agents for foams and packing materials, as solvents, and as refrigerants.

CFC’s are very stable molecules- so stable that they survive to reach the highest levels of the atmosphere, and remotest corner of the globe- Antarctica. Then why Ozone hole appeared over the Antarctic only? It’s because – Because of the unique atmospheric conditions, and constant feeding of CFC’s from the lower latitudes.