Ozone Layer Hole Over South Pole a Major Problem

Apr 22, 2011, 10:53 by David Hope

The ozone layer hole in Earth's atmosphere, located over the South Pole, has affected the climate of the Southern Hemisphere all the way to the equator, a study says.

A Columbia University study says previous work has shown the ozone hole is changing the atmospheric flow in the high latitudes, but the ozone hole is also able to influence the tropical circulation and increase rainfall at low latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere.

This is the first time that ozone depletion, an upper atmospheric phenomenon confined to the polar regions, has been linked to climate change from the pole to the equator, a Columbia release said Thursday.

"It's really amazing that the ozone hole, located so high up in the atmosphere over Antarctica, can have an impact all the way to the tropics and affect rainfall there -- it's just like a domino effect," said Sarah Kang of Columbia's Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and lead author of the paper.

During the last half-century, widespread use of aerosols containing chlorofluorocarbons significantly and rapidly broke down the ozone layer, to a point where the hole in the Antarctic ozone layer was discovered in the mid 1980s.

Thanks to the 1989 Montreal Protocol signed by 196 countries, global chlorofluorocarbon production has been phased out and ozone depletion has largely halted. Scientists expect it to fully reverse and the ozone hole to close by mid-century.

"While the ozone hole has been considered as a solved problem, we're now finding it has caused a great deal of the climate change that's been observed," Lorenzo M. Polvani, co-author of the paper, said.

Source: UPI