What is the ozone hole?
An atmospheric circulation pattern known as the "circumpolar vortex" builds over Antarctica in the winter, due to the very cold air mass that forms there. This vortex prevents stratospheric air from lower latitudes, which contains much more ozone, from penetrating into the atmosphere over Antarctica. At the same time, the long winter night deprives the air in the vortex of sunlight, which is necessary to produce stratospheric ozone.
The result is that very low levels of ozone occur during September and October. While this natural phenomenon was originally called the "Southern Anomaly", the term "ozone hole" has become more popular since it was discovered that some man-made gases called "chloroflurocarbons" can interact with and destroy ozone. This process i ...more