The good news is destruction of the ozone and hence the size of the ozone hole over Antarctica has diminished to a point that is the second smallest of the last 20 years. Last year’s new ozone hole over the Arctic, which caused great consternation, has not reappeared and its stratospheric ozone appears to have returned to a normal range. This might indicate that the objective of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, signed twenty-five years ago this September, is beginning to be realized. Or it might indicate that ozone holes, which depend on ultra cold temperatures in the stratosphere, do not form in the face of record heat and/or climate change. It is too soon to tell but any lessening of ozone destruction is a good outcome.
The National Climate Data Center Chief, Deke Arndt, reports that 2012, at the present rate, will be the warmest year in the past 100 years in the United States (see the video presentation on the third link identified below). With 16 months of average temperatures above normal, this year will break records for the warmest March, the warmest spring, the warmest July and the third warmest summer. The old records will be exceeded by a wide margin.
This year’s Antarctic ozone hole covered an average area of only 6.9 million square miles (17.9 million square kilometers). The largest size of this year’s ozone hole was reached on September 22, when the hole covered 8.2 million square miles or an area the size of the United States, Canada and Mexico combined. This is however, significantly smaller than the record ozone hole which encompassed 11.5 million square miles (29.9 million square kilometers) in 2000.
While climate scientists do not have enough information to correlate the diminishing destruction of the ozone with the rising temperatures of the United States and the world, the possibility of a relationship is a reality. In any case, the shrinking of the ozone hole(s) means the ultraviolet radiation humans receive is lessened which reduces the incidence of skin cancers and other maladies.
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