CAMS explains how largest-ever Arctic ozone hole has ‘healed’


As suddenly as it has appeared this year, the largest-ever Arctic ozone hole to be recorded has healed. 

According to a report, the said ozone hole was first seen over the Arctic region early this year, and have been continually monitored by scientists from the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) which is tasked to provide continuous data and information on global atmospheric conditions. 

CAMS observed the closure last week and has since been studying its relationship to the coronavirus pandemic. It is found that although the lockdowns imposed in response to the pandemic has significantly lessened the levels of air pollution in a global perspective, it is unlikely to be the reason for the closing of the ozone hole.

Simply caused by the weather

Contrary to the impression that reducing air pollution is the only way to heal the planet’s distraught ozone layer, CAMS explains that Earth has its own way of healing itself. It adds that the only link to the closure of the said ozone hole was the weather conditions present in the Arctic region.  

To understand the phenomena, it has conducted observations and analyzed data from the conditions present on the far side of the planet – the Antarctic. 

Accordingly, the Arctic stratosphere is not as isolated as the one in the Antarctic region. It details that this can be attributed to the presence of nearby landmasses and the abundance of plants and trees in existing mountain ranges. CAMS surmises that:

“Such environmental factors are the major reasons why the weather conditions in the Arctic is less destructive than its Antarctic counterpart.”

How the polar vortex impacts the ozone

The said service explains that the Arctic ozone hole that appeared this year resulted from a particularly strong polar vortex or a wide expanse of swirling cold air, that formed in the region. 

Analysts have cited that the last record-breaking ozone depletion was observed nearly a decade back and are scrutinizing possible reasons for its appearance this year. 

Bob Smerbeck, who is a Senior Meteorologist at AccuWeather, answered this and said that these are all “naturally occurring processes.” 

He adds that the behavior of the polar vortex is influenced by a combination of a solar minimum and a westerly quasi-biennial oscillation. These conditions were present this year and explain why the ozone hole has formed and eventually closed. 


Featured image courtesy of National Geographic/Youtube Screenshot.

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