Ozone Hole Approaches Record Size

The ozone hole over Antarctica, which shrinks and expands with the seasons, is now larger than it’s ever been at this time of year — nearly 11 million square miles — and within the next few weeks it could set an all-time record for size, a leading scientist is warning. Since discovery of a hole in the Earth’s protective ozone layer in 1985, the international community has made notable progress in stemming the use of ozone-depleting chemicals, but because it takes years for the chemicals to reach the upper atmosphere and do their damage, the recovery of the ozone layer is lagging behind these efforts. “We don’t know if the hole has finally peaked, is over the top and on the way down, or still has a bit further to go,” said Jonathan Shanklin, a scientist with the British Antarctic Survey. “We are sure that we are pretty near the top, but we could have to wait another decade to be able to say definitively that the worst is over and it is starting to recover.