Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

IMAGE: NASA reveals the new hole in the Arctic ozone

This week, we reported that the Arctic now has a hole on its ozone cover, making it a twin to the infamous Antarctic hole. Ozone is the protective layer that deflects damaging radiation from the sun back into space. Without ozone, it would be extremely difficult for anything to survive on earth.” For the first time, sufficient loss occurred to reasonably be described as an Arctic ozone hole,” researchers wrote in the journal Nature as reported by

Here we can see the new Arctic ozone in detail courtesy of NASA. The Earth’s stratosphere is imaged by the Microwave Limb Sounder instrument on NASA's Aura spacecraft.

As NASA writes: “In mid-March 2011 MLS measured very low ozone amounts (purple and grey colors over the north polar region) at an altitude of approximately 12 miles (20 kilometers). Large amounts of chlorine monoxide - the primary agent of chemical ozone destruction in the cold polar lower stratosphere - were observed for the same day and same altitude (dark blue colors). The white line marks the area within which the chemical ozone destruction took place.”

Climate change is credited as the source of the problem because of an interesting twist in the dynamics of the Earth. While climate change leads to warmer temperatures in the Earth’s atmosphere, it inversely cools the stratosphere where the ozone exists. This creates the conditions that cause the ozone layer to break apart and therefore, form a hole.

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Cal-Tech