MadSci Network: Earth Science

Re: The hole in the ozone layer Ozone hole

Area: Earth Science
Posted By: Karla Wilson, Staff, Biology
Date: Fri Jan 10 14:26:13 1997

Dear Robert,

The hole in the ozone layer is actually centered over Antarctica, not Australia, as you can see in the attached image. The reason the hole doesn't move is due to several factors. One is that there is an Antarctic vortex. During the very cold winter temperatures, the slow rotation of air around the South Pole forms a partially walled-off mass of air the size of North America. Although there is also an Artic vortex, it is weak by comparison.

Antarctica is also unique in that it has polar stratospheric ice clouds, or PSC's. In the October Spring when the sun rises, rapid reactions on the surface of the PSC's cause the equally rapid destruction of ozone molecules. The Antarctic vortex slows the mixing of air with the rest of the globe, and thus we get a fairly defined ozone "hole" over Antarctica.

Hope this helps.

Hole over Antarctica

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