2014 Antarctic ozone hole holds steady

October 30, 2014 by Audrey Haar, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Ozone concentrations above Antarctica on Sept. 11, 2014. Credit: NASA

The Antarctic ozone hole reached its annual peak size on Sept. 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.

"Year-to-year weather variability significantly impacts Antarctica ozone because warmer stratospheric temperatures can reduce ," said Paul A. Newman, chief scientist for atmospheres at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "The ozone hole area is smaller than what we saw in the late-1990s and early 2000s, and we know that chlorine levels are decreasing. However, we are still uncertain about whether a long-term Antarctic stratospheric temperature warming might be reducing this ozone depletion."

Ozone concentrations above Antarctica on Sept. 30, 2014. Credit: NASA

Scientists are working to determine if the ozone hole trend over the last decade is a result of temperature increases or chorine declines. An increase of stratospheric temperature over Antarctica would decrease the 's area. Satellite and ground-based measurements show that chlorine levels are declining, but stratospheric temperature analyses in that region are less reliable for determining long-term trends.

Scientists also found that the minimum thickness of ozone layer this year was recorded at 114 Dobson units on Sept. 30, compared to 250-350 Dobson units during the 1960s. Over the last 50 years satellite and ground-based records over Antarctica show ozone column amounts ranging from 100 to 400 Dobson units, which translates to about 1 millimeter (1/25 inch) to 5 millimeters (1/6 inch) of ozone in a layer if all of the ozone were brought down to the surface.

The ozone data come from the Dutch-Finnish Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA's Aura satellite and the Ozone Monitoring and Profiler Suite instrument on the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite. NOAA measurements at South Pole station monitor the ozone layer above that location by means of Dobson spectrophotometer and regular ozone-sonde balloon launches that record the thickness of the ozone layer and its vertical distribution. Chlorine amounts are estimated using NOAA and NASA ground measurements and observations from the Microwave Limb Sounder aboard NASA's Aura satellite.

NASA and NOAA are mandated under the Clean Air Act to monitor ozone-depleting gases and stratospheric depletion of ozone. Scientists from NASA and NOAA have been monitoring the and the concentrations of ozone-depleting substances and their breakdown products from the ground and with a variety of instruments on satellites and balloons since the 1970s. These observations allow us to provide a continuous long-term record to track the long-term and year-to-year evolution of amounts.

Explore further: 2012 Antarctic ozone hole second smallest in 20 years

Related Stories

2012 Antarctic ozone hole second smallest in 20 years

October 24, 2012

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. Scientists attribute ...

NASA reveals new results from inside the ozone hole

December 11, 2013

NASA scientists have revealed the inner workings of the ozone hole that forms annually over Antarctica and found that declining chlorine in the stratosphere has not yet caused a recovery of the ozone hole.

Significant ozone hole remains over Antarctica

October 20, 2011

The Antarctic ozone hole, which yawns wide every Southern Hemisphere spring, reached its annual peak on September 12, stretching 10.05 million square miles, the ninth largest on record. Above the South Pole, the ozone hole ...

Recommended for you

20 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bob Osaka
1 / 5 (3) Oct 30, 2014
The first images available are from 1986. They show the thinning ozone (hole) migrating south from the Marshall Islands and French Polynesia. Curious that similarly thin ozone patterns were also detected above Novaya Zemlya , Semipalatinsk in Kazhakstan, the Lop Nor the Urgur region in China and the Nevada desert outside of Las Vegas though not quite as large or well known. Interesting that these were all formerly atmospheric nuclear weapon test sites.
Rowland and Molina received the 1995 Nobel prize for atmospheric chemistry so the answer must be that CFC's are responsible, but according to their own and Lovelock's data, damage should continue unabated for another 100 years. Unless someone has made a mistake.
To test the hypothesis that nuclear weapons and not CFC's are the cause of ozone depletion one must wait observe closely the next time one explodes in the atmosphere.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (2) Oct 31, 2014
With the US Space shuttle program ended, so to has a significant source of ozone depletion.
Elmo_McGillicutty
not rated yet Oct 31, 2014
Are you sure that hole wasn't always there?
zz5555
5 / 5 (3) Oct 31, 2014
Bob Osaka,
Your hypothesis seems unlikely. For one thing, the ozone hole doesn't correlate well with the ending of atmospheric nuclear testing. Most testing ended in 1963 with France ending testing in 1974 and China in 1980. The drop in stratospheric ozone levels began to level off in the early '90s which doesn't correlate well with the ending of testing. The Montreal Protocol, on the other hand, was signed in 1987. In addition, you're ignoring all the science and data and testing that support the very well understood chemistry involving ozone depletion by CFCs. This is very well established science (kind of like climate science with which is shares some information).

Of course, waiting for another "test" is likely to be a long wait since no one's doing it - unless we get another world war.
Bob Osaka
1 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2014
zz555,
As unlikely as it may seem, data supports the position that the detonation of a single 250 kiloton nuclear weapon air burst in the atmosphere would do more damage to the ozone layer than all of the hairspray and CFC refrigerants ever used in the southern hemisphere.
There is something odd about the timeline. Under ideal conditions for CFC's to reach the stratosphere from sea level would require 27.3 years. The stable molecules continue to do damage for up to 100 years. Over 110 tons were produced last year. In developing countries recycling air conditioners, automobiles, refrigerators sent for disposal by developed economies continue to be the largest source of CFC,HFC release into the atmosphere, yet the hole continues to shrink as if recovering from a trauma.

The way deterrence works is that you show off your weapons. Atmospheric tests leave no doubt. But who would do such an irresponsible thing?

It's OK, keep thinking it was the hairspray.
Elmo_McGillicutty
not rated yet Nov 01, 2014
? It's seems to me there was a 50 M TON spark about ~ 60 yrs. ago in N. Russia.
Where's the hole?

I just love modern science.
zz5555
5 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2014
As unlikely as it may seem, data supports the position that the detonation of a single 250 kiloton nuclear weapon air burst in the atmosphere would do more damage to the ozone layer than all of the hairspray and CFC refrigerants ever used in the southern hemisphere.


As usual, no actual data is shown. When you look at the data, it's clear that it's unlikely that nuclear testing had a significant impact - at least as compared to CFCs. From Rood '86 (http://www.agu.or...0217.pdf ) we see there is little or no impact due to testing. Nitrous oxide is the component from testing that leads to ozone depletion. From Ravishankara '09 (http://ozone.unep...2_09.pdf ) we see that N20 effects are much less than CFC during the time period.
Ctd.
zz5555
5 / 5 (4) Nov 01, 2014
N20 has a lifetime of ~112 years in the atmosphere, so we should still be able to see the inflated levels due to testing, but there don't seem to be much. Also, keep in mind that the amount of N20 added to the atmosphere due to testing is calculated to be somewhere in the noise compared to natural fluctuations of N20.

As I mentioned, you're also ignoring the well understood chemistry of how CFCs destroy the ozone. Are you aware that we can actually measure levels of CFCs and N20 in the atmosphere so there's no real doubt in all this?

If you have any real data, it might be nice to show it. As it is, this looks like just another bit of pseudoscience.
Bob Osaka
1 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2014
Elmo,
It's seems to me there was a 50 M TON spark about ~ 60 yrs. ago in N. Russia.
Where's the hole?
There are wonderful maps of the ozone hole. Tsar Bomba Oct. 30, 1961 Google: ozone hole images Novaya Zemlya.
zz5555,
When you look at the data, it's clear that it's unlikely that nuclear testing had a significant impact - at least as compared to CFCs.(if atmospheric testing isn't so bad..Why did it stop?)
The truth is unknown, satellite imagery was unavailable at the time of testing. DoE and DoD are rather tight lipped when it comes to sharing information. http://dx.doi.org...15p02583

What is clear is that ozone depletion seems to be reversing which should not be the case if CFC's were the only culprit and that was the whole story.
zz5555
5 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2014
(if atmospheric testing isn't so bad..Why did it stop?)[\q]

Hmm, I think it says a lot that you don't even have the intellectual curiosity to find this out. (hint: fallout - http://en.wikiped...h_Survey ).

http://dx.doi.org/10,1029/JC081i015p02583[\q]

Hmm, a link that goes nowhere.

What is clear is that ozone depletion seems to be reversing which should not be the case if CFC's were the only culprit and that was the whole story.


Had you read - or even looked at - any of the links I gave, you'd know that CFCs weren't the only culprit. You'd also that the effects of CFCs on ozone depletion were much greater than N2O during the period of atmospheric testing. Any research by yourself would show that N2O from testing is small compared to natural N2O. The fact that you don't understand science doesn't make it not true.

Ctd.
zz5555
4 / 5 (4) Nov 01, 2014
So let's see if I have this straight:
1. You deny the known chemistry and data which indicates that the effects of CFCs on ozone depletion was much greater than that of NO2 during testing. You're unsupported claim of DOD and DOE not releasing data doesn't make the known data invalid.
2. You appear to refuse to read peer-reviewed articles that refute your claim.
3. You don't appear to be able to support your claim with any data.
4. You appear not to have done any research on the topic (e.g., you didn't understand why testing was stopped).

In short, no amount of science of data appears to be able to sway your uneducated claim. Nothing personal, but you appear to be one of the reasons the "ignore user" button was made.
Bob Osaka
1 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2014
zz5555,
Just to straighten you out a little more.
1. The limits of known atmospheric chemistry are still profound. Yes, CFC trumps N2O, agreed.
2. Did read your links with all due skepticism.
3. Doing the math, not relying on others. There is no available data, which is partially my point. Add to that an intuition that someone has made errors.
4.Please forgive the prod. Had to find out whether you were an advocate for the continued stupidity of testing.
Ignore me if you will.
Thank your lucky stars that somehow apparently, humans have averted the extinction by hairspray event.
Elmo_McGillicutty
1 / 5 (5) Nov 02, 2014
The last 20 years has proven that they do not understand atmospheric heat transfer. And they were very sure. Most still deny their failure. Why would any believe their ozone theories?
zz5555
5 / 5 (5) Nov 02, 2014
The last 20 years has proven that they do not understand atmospheric heat transfer. And they were very sure. Most still deny their failure. Why would any believe their ozone theories?


How so? I presume you're commenting on the "failure" of climate models? But, as has been often shown, they have not failed at all (e.g., http://www.skepti...iate.htm ). Claiming that they haven't predicted the "hiatus" of the last few years is misleading since that isn't what climate models are meant to do. Climate models also can't brew beer, but that's hardly a reason to fault them since they don't claim to. It's pretty well documented that the "hiatus" is due to internal variability of the climate - the earth is continuing to heat up, but the heat has been redistributed over the earth. Over the long term this averages out, so the climate models are correct for the long term - as they are designed for.
zz5555
5 / 5 (4) Nov 02, 2014
I'll note that there are attempts to get models to, um, model the internal variability of the climate, but so far there hasn't been a lot of success (that I'm aware of - I'll happily be corrected if wrong). In my opinion, I think the scales required to do that are too small for the current generation of computers to resolve. The models have still done very well even at short term projections with their current limitations, but it'll likely be quite some time before they're able to get 5 or 10 year periods correct. Frankly, whenever I see someone claim that the models have failed it means that either a) that person knows very little about climate modeling, or b) that person is lying.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2014
data supports the position that the detonation of a single 250 kiloton nuclear weapon air burst in the atmosphere would do more damage to the ozone layer than all of the hairspray and CFC refrigerants ever used in the southern hemisphere.
@Bob Osaka
would you mind linking this study
thanks
The stable molecules continue to do damage for up to 100 years
even stable mol's can be affected by temp. and other factors

would you mind finding the studies you are referencing for the above data and linking those as well?
Did read your links with all due skepticism
science is about proving your point, not just skepticism
links to studies have empirical evidence, not conjecture
Doing the math, not relying on others
noble, but irrelevant if ZZ is providing studies
if you are fact checking a study, it means you are a conspiracy theorist unless you know of a specific problem that caused a retraction or correction
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2014
DoE and DoD are rather tight lipped when it comes to sharing information
@Bob
with regard to national security, sure

that link ( http://dx.doi.org...15p02583 ) does not work
please give a better link as we don't know what you were trying to reference
Add to that an intuition that someone has made errors
conspiracy theory conjecture

The last 20 years has proven that they do not understand atmospheric heat transfer. And they were very sure. Most still deny their failure. Why would any believe their ozone theories?
@elmoisnottickled
denying the reality of science for the sake of politics or delusional conspiracy theory is just stupid
however, feel free to refute the science with exual and similar scientific findings that refute modern climate studies
if you are denying climate science, you are simply not scientifically literate, or stupid... take you pick
http://phys.org/n...firstCmt
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Nov 02, 2014
Please forgive the prod. Had to find out whether you were an advocate for the continued stupidity of testing.
@bob
why is this relevant?
so far, ZZ has been posting links and evidence from reputable science and you are not doing well with any type of refute, especially with certain comments like:
2. Did read your links with all due skepticism.
3. Doing the math, not relying on others. There is no available data, which is partially my point. Add to that an intuition that someone has made errors.
I am thinking ZZ may have made a valid point with
In short, no amount of science of data appears to be able to sway your uneducated claim. Nothing personal, but you appear to be one of the reasons the "ignore user" button was made.
are you a denier without evidence & trying to troll or what?

start linking some science and make a valid point... your arguments are not very good without substantiating evidence, you know
zz5555
5 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2014
One more comment (or set of comments) and I'll leave this mess. This is how my thought process goes:
1. Measuring ozone has been around since the 1920s, so a long time. It doesn't seem particularly complicated. Finding data is fairly straightforward if you look up Dobson Unit in Wiki. It contains a link to the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre (http://www.woudc....x_e.html ). Also it doesn't seem too difficult to read the ozone levels, so I see no reason to distrust the data. (Unless you believe there's a conspiracy - and if you think there's a conspiracy, the next thing you should probably think is, "My god, I'm nuttier than a fruitcake!")
2. As you mentioned, the USSR detonated an atmospheric test of 50Mt in 1961. That should have occurred in either the North Temperate or North Polar regions.

Ctd.
zz5555
5 / 5 (2) Nov 02, 2014
3. The nice thing about atmospheric testing is that the N2O reaches the stratosphere immediately, unlike CFCs that take years to get there. So we should see changes immediately.
4. From my link to Rood '86, Fig. 1, you can that there is very little variation in ozone in either. There's a dip to ~-6% for the North Polar ozone, but it recovers very quickly and is no where near the ~40% drop attributed to CFCs. Keep in mind that N2O is also created naturally and varies there, so it would be difficult to attribute any change just to the testing.
5. At this point you have shown quite conclusively that atmospheric testing is not a significant driver in ozone loss. You could then switch to another non-CFC claim (that's likely to fail), but it would be nonsense to claim that atmospheric testing was important.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.