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Click HERE for Ozone Hole Graph Graph of current Southern Hemisphere Ozone Hole Area using SBUV/2 Total Ozone Observations

Background Information about the "Ozone Hole"

Every year for the past several decades the return of sunlight to the high latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere has produced massive depletion of ozone over Antarctica. Observations in Antarctica initiated in the 1950's document this progressive loss of ozone during the Southern Hemisphere spring. Satellite data from the NASA/TOMS showed that the affected area was not just limited to over the observation stations, but over most of Antarctica. This area of 50-75% depletion of total ozone has been labeled as the "ozone hole". The ozone hole is defined geographicaly as the area wherein the total ozone amount is less than 220 Dobson Units. The ozone hole has steadily grown in size(up to 27 million sq. km.) and length of existence(from August through early December) over the past two decades. This is graphically illustrated in ozone hole area versus Julian day plots for the years: 1979-80, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. The cause and effects of the ozone hole are explained in depth by the linked sites. Areas of countries and continents are listed in the table below for reference in comparison to the size of the ozone hole.

NOAA monitors the progression of the ozone hole from space and on the ground in Antarctica. Summaries of previous years' ozone holes are available at the NOAA/CPC Stratospheric Winter Summary site.

What's Happening Currently

The current year's ozone hole plot shows the progression of this year's ozone hole (red line) and is placed in reference with last year's ozone hole conditions (blue line) and conditions over the previous ten years. The maximum ozone hole area for each day over the ten year period is shown as the upper black line. The minimum ozone hole area for each day of this same period is shown as the lower black line. The mean ozone hole area for each day over this period is shown as the green line. The gray shaded area in August depicts the decreasing degree of uncertainty in the ozone hole size estimate as more of the polar region becomes sunlit. The figure will be updated twice weekly from September through December to show the progress of the current year's ozone hole.

Note that data in August is not as reliable as succeeding months due to limited observation coverage by the ozone monitoring instrument.

The area ploted is in Million Square Kilometers.

Where the Ozone Data Comes From

Current and past ozone conditions presented here have been measured by the Solar Backscatter UltraViolet(SBUV/2) instrument onboard a series of NOAA polar orbiting satellites. Information about the SBUV/2 instrument and data can be found from NOAA/NESDIS Polar Orbiter Data User's Guide and Information Processing Division.

Check out the Southern Hemisphere Total Ozone Analysis from the NOAA-19 SBUV/2 to see the status of the current ozone "hole".

Below is a table of geographic areas to be used as references in conceptualizing just how large the ozone hole can get.

Following are referable areas:
Australia 8,923,000 Sq Km
United States 9,363,130 Sq Km
Europe 10,498,000 Sq Km
Antarctica 13,340,000 Sq Km
Russia 17,078,000 Sq Km
North America 25,349,000 Sq Km
Africa 30,335,000 Sq Km
S. Pole to 70 S 15,300,000 Sq Km
S. Pole to 65 S 23,890,000 Sq Km

For more information about the "ozone hole" and ozone depletion check out these sites:


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Page Author: Climate Prediction Center Internet Team
Page last modified: August 29, 2005
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