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The ozone hole over Antarctica may be related to the effects of the volcanic eruption at Hunga Tonga

The ozone hole over Antarctica may be related to the effects of the volcanic eruption at Hunga Tonga

Maximum daily CAMS total column ozone analyzes over Antarctica between 2023-07-01 and 2023-08-28

In connection with observations of the early stages of the Antarctic ozone hole in 2023 by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), a slightly earlier-than-normal development and decline of column ozone was detected compared to 43 years of previous satellite observations. Combined with other leading indicators, this marks an early start to this year’s ozone hole. However, the developments observed in the past week and the CAMS forecast for the coming days show that the situation is close to average. The early formation is likely related to the effects of the January 2022 Hunga-Tonga-Hunga Haapai volcanic eruption on the composition of the upper atmosphere. It is uncertain whether this will lead to stronger ozone depletion and a larger than normal ozone hole.

The Antarctic ozone hole is an atmospheric phenomenon that occurs every year. Under normal Southern Hemisphere stratospheric conditions, the hole begins to form in mid-to-late August, with sunrise over the South Pole, and closes in late November. The combination of ERA-5 and CAMS reanalysis provides 43 years of total column ozone (TCO3) measurements that provide context for each year’s evolution. And in 2023, development began unusually early, following the lowest total ozone values ​​in the Southern Hemisphere in the past four decades recorded in July. For this reason, its total area is currently relatively high, although later development followed a growth curve fairly typical for this time of year.

One possible reason that could explain this unusual onset of the ozone hole season is the increase in water vapor in the atmosphere as a result of the eruptions of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga Haapei volcano in December 2021 and January 2022. Because ozone depletion is driven by chemical processes that occur on polar stratospheric clouds when water vapor levels in the stratosphere are high.

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The persistent ozone-depleting substances that build up in the stratosphere and cause a sharp drop in ozone concentration over Antarctica each spring are primarily of human origin and emitted by industries since the 1960s. Since the adoption of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, when new emissions were phased out, concentrations of ozone-depleting substances in the stratosphere have decreased, and there are clear signs of recovery of the ozone layer. It is important to note that ozone depleting substances will affect the ozone layer for several decades as it takes a long time for them to be eventually removed from the atmosphere. Within 50 years, stratospheric concentrations are expected to return to pre-industrial levels, and ozone holes will no longer exist.

CAMS Director Vincent Henry Bosch comments: “Our ability to provide 3D analyzes and forecasts of polar ozone is a powerful way to monitor how ozone holes are evolving in real time and to assess the key drivers behind observations. This gives us insight into how far events like the Hunga eruption have driven Tonga-Hunga Haapai last year caused an increase in water vapor in the stratosphere.This is currently an open question for scientists, and CAMS will continue to provide detailed information until the 2023 ozone hole melts in November or December.

Implemented by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission and funded by the European Union, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) supports international efforts to preserve the ozone layer through continuous monitoring and provision of data on its current state. state.

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More information about these anomalies about ozone here.

For more information about how CAMS tracks the ozone hole, see the Ozone Monitoring page here

About Copernicus and the ECMWF

Copernicus is part of the European Union’s space program, which is funded by the European Union and is its main program for Earth observation. The company operates through six thematic services: atmospheric, marine, terrestrial, climate change, security, and emergencies. It provides freely available operational data and services that provide users with reliable and up-to-date information about our planet and its environment. The program is coordinated and managed by the European Commission and implemented in partnership with Member States, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). EU Agencies, Mercator Ocean and others.

The ECMWF operates two services of the European Union’s Copernicus Earth observation programme: the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) and the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). They also contribute to the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS), which is implemented by the European Union’s Joint Research Council (JRC). The European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is an independent intergovernmental organization supported by 35 countries. It is a 24/7 research institute and operational service that produces and disseminates numerical weather forecasts to its member states. This data is fully available to the National Meteorological Services of the Member States. The supercomputer facility (and associated data archive) at the ECMWF is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and member states can use 25 percent of its capacity for their own purposes..

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ECMWF has expanded the number of locations in which it operates. In addition to the UK headquarters and computing center in Italy, new offices focusing on activities carried out in partnership with the European Union, such as Copernicus, will be based in Bonn, Germany.

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Copernicus Climate Change Service Network
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