Feeds

This year's ozone hole set to be a whopper

Penguins rush to buy suncream

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The hole in the Ozone layer over Antarctica this year is shaping up to be one of the biggest ever, satellite images from the European Space Agency (ESA) suggest.

The area of depletion, as the scientists call it, already covers ten million square kilometres, is still expanding, and won't reach its maximum until some time in September. Only the holes in 1996 and 2000 were larger at this stage in their development, ESA says.

The Ozone layer naturally fluctuates through the year, reaching its peak thickness in the summer months and fading away during the winter. Regional variations in weather systems play a part in the timing of the hole's appearance, ESA explains.

During the southern hemisphere winter, the prevailing winds in Antarctica, known as the polar vortex, keep the atmospheric mass above the Antarctic continent is isolated from exchanges with mid-latitude air.

This keeps the air mass above the continent cold, and in the cold and dark, clouds that contain chlorine can form in the polar stratosphere.

Once the spring returns, this chlorine, much of it originating from man-made pollutants like chlorofluorocarbons, disrupts the ozone layer.

The sunlight splits the chlorine into highly reactive ions that break ozone down into normal oxygen molecules. One molecule of chlorine can break down thousands of ozone molecules.

However, use of CFCs has decreased significantly since the 1987 Montreal Protocol, and there is evidence that the protective atmospheric layer is beginning to recover from the damage wrought. A full recovery is not expected before 2050. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.