Arctic ozone hole closes


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The uncertainty of science: The largest ozone hole ever detected over the north pole has now closed.

After looming above the Arctic for nearly a month, the single largest ozone hole ever detected over the North Pole has finally closed, researchers from the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) reported. “The unprecedented 2020 Northern Hemisphere ozone hole has come to an end,” CAMS researchers tweeted on April 23.

The hole in the ozone layer — a portion of Earth’s atmosphere that shields the planet from ultraviolet radiation — first opened over the Arctic in late March when unusual wind conditions trapped frigid air over the North Pole for several weeks in a row. Those winds, known as a polar vortex, created a circular cage of cold air that led to the formation of high-altitude clouds in the region. The clouds mixed with man-made pollutants like chlorine and bromine, eating away at the surrounding ozone gas until a massive hole roughly three times the size of Greenland opened in the atmosphere, according to a statement from the European Space Agency (ESA). [emphasis mine]

Note that the north pole hole occurred because of unusually frigid and cold conditions, something I thought we were never going to see again because of global warming.

The last paragraph of the article at the link reveals a lot of ignorance by its writer, Brandon Specktor, where he discusses the south pole ozone hole. First, he says it “has existed for roughly four decades.” Wrong. The south pole ozone hole was first detected in the 1950s, and has likely existed every winter for eons.

Next, he wonders if it is “starting to close.” Wrong. That ozone hole opens every winter and closes every summer, like clockwork. When winter arrives and the south pole is in darkness, oxygen molecules are no longer being ionized by sunlight and thus there is a drop in the production of ozone, producing the hole. When sunlight begins hitting the upper atmosphere in the spring it starts ionizing oxygen molecules again to produce ozone, and the hole goes away.

Then he notes that scientists hope the hole will “heal” and forever disappear by 2050. Wrong. The data says instead that the south pole ozone hole is a natural phenomenon that occurs every winter. It is not a wound against the earth.

Finally, he claims that the south pole ozone hole exists almost entirely because of us evil humans, first because of global warming and second because until 1987 we put ozone-depleting pollutants into the atmosphere. Wrong. As I said, the ozone hole is almost entirely a natural phenomenon, caused each winter because sunlight is no longer hitting the upper atmosphere above Antarctica and thus oxygen molecules are no longer being ionized into ozone. Those pollutants might have made it slightly larger in the late 20th century, but then, that theory has a problem, as most of those pollutants were released in the northern hemisphere, where they would have little or no interaction with the atmosphere of the southern hemisphere. (The atmospheres of the two hemispheres are largely independent.) Yet it was only in the south that we have generally seen an ozone hole

I predict, very confidently, that come 2050 climate scientists will discover, “unexpectedly”, that the south pole ozone hole has not “closed” or “healed”, but continues to reappear, each winter. And they will have by then discovered that depending on circumstances, a north pole ozone hole also appears during some colder winters, which despite their repeatedly failed predictions of global warming will likely continue to happen.

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8 comments

  • Max

    “The hole in the ozone layer — a portion of Earth’s atmosphere that shields the planet from ultraviolet radiation”

    The Ozone Thinning, due to lack of sunlight that makes it, measures at 3 ppm. Soon, as the polar area receive 24 hours sunlight, it will reach a maximum of 10 ppm as ozone begins reacting with the ozone depleting chemical “ozone” making O2.

    Saying “ozone shield the planet from ultraviolet radiation”it’s like saying wear sunscreen to protect yourself a house fire.
    Our atmosphere protects us from UV and the ozone layer is proof or consequence of this protection. Being a larger molecule it would only protect us One part out of 100,000 parts of sunlight and from UV-A which is not harmful.

    It’s funny that they would list the third largest ingredient of the ocean “chlorine” as man-made.

  • Phill O

    oxygen molecules are no longer being ionized by sunlight
    oxygen molecules are no longer being ionized into ozone

    I hate to be a nitpicker, but oxygen molecules are split into two Radicals with not charge. They are not ionized. A radical combines with another oxygen molecule to form O3 (ozone)

    However, you are absolutely right on the seasonal variation of ozone concentrations in the upper atmosphere. ABSOLUTELY

    O2 + hv > 2O.
    O. + O2 > O3

  • Edward

    The Antarctic ozone “hole” is merely a reduction in the amount of ozone, not a complete lack of ozone. During the cold winter night, temperatures fall low enough for precursor chemicals to form and slowly accumulate. During the cold winter night, ozone still exists along with the precursor chemicals. It is in October (in the north it was April), when the sun pokes up above the horizon that the precursor chemicals begin to react with the sunlight (ironically, ultraviolet) and the existing ozone (which survives the cold winter) and some of the ozone is destroyed by the reaction until the precursors run out. When this reaction becomes strong enough, the “hole” forms.

    While this reaction is happening, ozone is also being formed by a different interaction with (ironically) ultraviolet light from the sun. The ozone “hole” is a temporary phenomenon, lasting about a month starting shortly after the spring equinox. Once the precursor chemicals are exhausted, then the normal course of events occur, in which interaction between oxygen molecules and ultraviolet light form ozone, while simultaneously interactions between ozone molecules and (ironically) ultraviolet light destroys ozone until an equilibrium is reached. When the sun goes down again, these two reactions stop, leaving ozone in the atmosphere overnight. A long cold night, during which the precursor chemicals again form. The amount of ozone — the “hole” — is a concentration that dips below 50% of the normal equilibrium.

    The reason that there has not been an ozone “hole” in the Arctic, before, is that the temperatures have not fallen low enough for much of the precursor chemical (a nitrogen-chlorine molecule) to form, so when the sun rises in the Arctic, there is not enough precursor chemicals to make much difference in the ozone layer.

    The protection from ultraviolet light that the ozone layer provides is due to the absorption of the ultraviolet during the ozone creation and the ozone destruction processes.

    The precursor chemicals are only some of the chemicals measured by the CLAES instrument on the UARS satellite:
    https://uars.gsfc.nasa.gov/uars-science/claes.html

    CLAES created plots of the Antarctic ozone “hole” during the early 1990s.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_Atmosphere_Research_Satellite#Cryogenic_Limb_Array_Etalon_Spectrometer_(CLAES)

    While I was working on another instrument for the UARS satellite, the CLAES instrument was being built by my department’s sister department, next door.

  • wayne

    Edward–
    Hope all remains (reasonably) well with you in California! (ya’ been on a roll the last month or so, good stuff, all around!)

  • Edward

    wayne,
    Doing reasonably well, thank you. I hope you and everyone are equally well. Traffic in the area is high, but there still aren’t many places for all these people to be going.

    My dentist opened up this week to work on the backlog of his patients’s non-emergency problems over the first two sessions of The Great Oppression (three weeks, then the balance of April, now we are in session three, through May). There is a light at the end of the tunnel (but why do I hear a whistle?). Today he assessed my tooth that lost a crown, six weeks ago, and decided that it is doing well enough that we can wait to replace it early next month, combining the appointment with my scheduled routine teeth cleaning. Routine procedures should be allowed in June, with the end of California’s never-ending Great Oppression lockdown shutdown smackdown.

    The Arctic ozone hole didn’t affect me at all. Wait. Should my skin be this red after walking from my car to the dentist office?

  • wayne

    Edward–
    Dentist’s remain closed in Michigan, fortunately I was in for a cleaning a week before the shut-down. (the one weed store we have = ‘essential,’ my Dentist is apparently considered a potential hot-bed of contagion.)
    Yo– Gasoline; dropped to a low of 1.079 last week, over the weekend, it went up in pervasive, lock-step, stages to $1.759, everywhere.
    –One interesting (perverse) prohibition we have in-place; you can’t return your cans/bottles to get the deposit back. (10 cents on beverages)

  • Edward

    Wayne,
    Two days ago, bought gas for $2.39-9/10. It is the least expensive gas around. I drove past gas as high as 3.00-9/10 for the same low grade. Quite a range in a five mile difference. If your gas prices leaped, last week, then I may have missed gas at a lower price.

  • wayne

    Edward–
    “lock-step pervasive increase”

    Gasoline is now $1.899 the gallon, “everywhere,” (within a 15-20 mile range.)
    The low price was down to 0.979 the gallon, but that only lasted for a few days at a few stations.
    (on the upside, Michigan residents are now ‘allowed’ to ‘travel.’)

    I regularly drive by a regional “tank farm,” where gasoline comes via pipeline from the Whiting Indiana B.P. refinery outside of Chicago. It appears they have been working overtime recently but hard to tell. (they run 24/7/365 normally)

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