Feeds

This year's ozone hole set to be a whopper

Penguins rush to buy suncream

Remote control for virtualized 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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.