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This image shows the amount of ozone in Earth's stratosphere. The colors represent different amounts of ozone with purple and blue indicating very low levels of stratospheric ozone. Yellow and green represent higher levels of ozone. Notice the blue and purple spot over the South Pole which is the Antarctic ozone hole. The ozone levels are monitored by satellite.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

Repairing the Antarctic Ozone Hole!
News story originally written on September 17, 2002

The ozone layer in the stratosphere is important for life on Earth because it shields the Earth from the Sun’s harmful rays. Scientists have been watching a hole grow in the ozone layer above the South Pole for years, but now they have some good news. They say that the Antarctic ozone hole may close by 2050!

The ozone hole over Antarctica formed mainly because Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were destroying ozone. CFCs are made by humans and released into the atmosphere when refrigerators and air conditioners run. CFCs in the atmosphere are able to break ozone apart when a chlorine atom from a CFC molecule, broken off by UV radiation, attacks an ozone molecule.

It looks like our efforts to cut down on activities that release CFCs are making a difference according to a recent study that says the amount of CFCs in our atmosphere has been declining since 2000. “We are now at a point where the atmosphere can actually remove CFCs faster than they are being released into the atmosphere,” said Paul Fraser, a scientists and one of the authors of the report.


Last modified September 17, 2002 by Lisa Gardiner.

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