Scientists believe that the eruption of the Hongja Tonga volcano, which stunned the world last January, pumped a lot of water into the stratosphere, and is likely to make the ozone hole even larger in the coming years.
According to reports, the powerful explosion that was seen from space And It can be detected by all kinds of sensors around the world, increased The amount of water in the stratosphere by 10%. The stratosphere is the second lowest layer Earth’s atmosphere It is where the ozone layer is located, which protects the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Now, that ozone may be at risk because water spewing from the Hong Tonga volcano caused “significant cooling of the stratosphere at mid-southern latitudes,” said Paul Newman, chief scientist for atmospheric sciences at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Space Agency .com.
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Vincent-Henri Boch, head of the European Atmospheric Monitoring Service at Copernicus, told Space.com that cooler temperatures in the stratosphere accelerate the process of ozone layer degradation. That’s because when the stratosphere is cooler and there’s more water present at those altitudes, scientists notice more frequent formation of polar stratospheric clouds, strange thin clouds that float 9 to 15 miles (15 to 25 kilometers) above Earth. These clouds form during the winter months when stratospheric temperatures are at their coldest, and provide the right chemical environment for chlorine-based ozone-depleting substances, which were banned in 1989 but are still suspended in the air above the planet, to destroy ozone.
“During the polar night, there is a pre-treatment of chlorinated compounds that occur on polar stratospheric clouds,” Bush said. “This works throughout the Antarctic winter in July and August, and when the light returns in the polar regions in September, all this pre-processing turns into ozone destruction which we then see as the ozone hole.”
Once the stratosphere warms when summer arrives in the Antarctic, the ozone hole begins to close and usually disappears by the end of November.
Although the eruption of the Hong Tonga volcano occurred in January, scientists did not see an impact on the ozone hole this year. So the eyes of scientists next year. Newman said that although it is speculated that the Tonga Galaxy will affect the ozone hole next year over Antarctica, he is reasonably confident that scientists will see the difference.
“The material from Hongja Tonga didn’t enter the ozone hole over Antarctica this year, but it will definitely get there next year,” Newman said. “And it’s just a simple guess, I would say that the effect will be detectable and that it will be fairly large. Of course, the Antarctic stratosphere varies from year to year, so there is always the possibility that we might have weird circulation in the stratosphere next year and the Hong effect.” Kong Tonga won’t be obvious, but I think it will be.”
However, scientists are not worried about this temporary increase in the size of the ozone hole. According to the latest news World Meteorological Organization assessment (Opens in a new tab) (WMO), Earth’s protective ozone layer, located at altitudes between 9 and 21 miles (15 and 35 km), is recovering from depletion caused by chlorine- and bromine-containing chemicals used in aerosol sprays and refrigerants since the 1950s. Scientists first noticed the weakening of the ozone layer, as well as the hole expanding in it over Antarctica, in the 1970s, and quickly discovered the culprit. Through the weakened ozone layer, more harmful ultraviolet radiation has reached a landsurface. Studies appreciation In Australia, the continent hardest hit by the deterioration of the ozone layer, the incidence of melanoma, a type of skin cancer linked to damage from UV rays, increased by 60% between 1982 and 2010.
The use of the offending substances has been banned under the Montreal Protocol, which was signed by the United Nations in 1987. According to the new assessment released on January 8, the ozone layer around the world should mostly heal in the next two decades. The Antarctic ozone hole will take a little longer to close completely, but scientists expect it to disappear by the mid-2060s.
Although the Montreal Protocol has averted one of the worst environmental disasters caused by mankind, satellite measurements show that The ozone hole over Antarctica can still reach significant sizes It lasts well into the Antarctic summer. According to the European Environmental Monitoring Program Copernicus, in the past three years the ozone hole was surprisingly large and remained open until December when it normally closes in late November.
According to Beuch, this unusual behavior may be due to fluctuations in the size and strength of the polar vortex, the region of strong cold winds over the Earth’s poles. These changes may be due to Climate change, sometimes leading to cooler-than-normal conditions in the polar vortex, which in turn leads to a larger and longer-lasting ozone hole. Although the Antarctic ozone hole in 2023 may join its three large and long-lived predecessors, perhaps with the help of water vapor from Hong Tonga, scientists are confident that in the long term, we will see the ozone hole shrink.
“We don’t understand exactly what is driving this year based on overall variance,” Beuch said. “It’s like the weather. In one year, the stratosphere will be much colder than the next year. You have hotter and colder periods, and yet you have different patterns of variation in the size of the ozone hole. It’s still an area of research.”
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