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HOME > Stratosphere Home > Southern Hemisphere Ozone Hole

Southern Hemisphere Ozone Hole


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 duration (from August through early December) over the past two decades. This is graphically illustrated in ozone hole area progression plots for the years 1980 to present.

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. Scientific analysis and discussion of historical ozone holes (1994 - 2009) are available at the NOAA/CPC Stratospheric Winter Summary site.


Current Status of the Antarctic Ozone Hole

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 (million sq km) 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 is updated daily August through December.

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


Ozone Data Source

Current and past ozone conditions presented here have been measured by Solar Backscatter UltraViolet(SBUV/2) and Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) onboard a series of NOAA Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES). Additionally OMPS has been onboard Suomi National Polar Orbiting Partnership (S-NPP) since 2012.

Check out the Southern Hemisphere Total Ozone Analysis from OMPS S-NPP to see the current status of Antarctic ozone.


Comparative Land Sizes

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 ozone depletion check out:

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