The ozone hole: Closing the gap

After thinning at alarming rates in the 1980s and 90s, the ozone layer over Antarctica is starting to recover.

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Ozone is a molecule comprised of three oxygen atoms. A layer of ozone high in the atmosphere – about 9 to 18 miles (15 to 30 km) up – surrounds the entire Earth. It protects life on our planet from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

In the 1980s, scientists began to realize that ozone-depleting chemicals, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), were creating a thin spot – a hole – in the ozone layer over Antarctica. Through an international effort to decrease the use of CFCs, the ozone layer is starting to mend, and scientists believe it should mostly recover by the middle of the 21st century. This series of satellite images shows the ozone hole on the day of its maximum depth from 1979 through 2018.

Bottom line: The ozone hole over Antarctica is slowly closing up.

Via NASA Earth Observatory

Eleanor Imster

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