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2014 Antarctic ozone hole holds steady

The Antarctic ozone hole reached its annual peak size in September. The size of this year’s hole was about the same as last year’s.

This image shows ozone concentrations above Antarctica on Sept. 11, 2014. Image credit: NASA.

This image shows ozone concentrations above Antarctica on Sept. 11, 2014. Image credit: NASA.

In 2014, the Antarctic ozone hole reached its annual peak size on September 11, according to scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The size of this year’s hole was 24.1 million square kilometers (9.3 million square miles) — an area roughly the size of North America.

The single-day maximum area was similar to that in 2013, which reached 24.0 million square kilometers (9.3 million square miles). The largest single-day ozone hole ever recorded by satellite was 29.9 million square kilometers (11.5 million square miles) on Sept. 9, 2000. Overall, the 2014 ozone hole is smaller than the large holes of the 1998–2006 period, and is comparable to 2010, 2012, and 2013.

With the increased atmospheric chlorine levels present since the 1980s, the Antarctic ozone hole forms and expands during the Southern Hemisphere spring (August and September). The ozone layer helps shield life on Earth from potentially harmful ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer and damage plants.

The Montreal Protocol agreement beginning in 1987 regulated ozone depleting substances, such as chlorine-containing chlorofluorocarbons and bromine-containing halons. The 2014 level of these substances over Antarctica has declined about 9 percent below the record maximum in 2000.

Bottom line: The 2014 The Antarctic ozone hole reached its annual peak size on September 11. According to scientists from NASA and NOAA, the size of this year’s hole was 24.1 million square kilometers (9.3 million square miles) — an area roughly the size of North America.

Read more from NASA

Eleanor Imster

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