Low Temperatures in the Arctic Ozone Layer Initiating Massive Ozone Depletion

Colder temperatures such as those located in arctic areas have negative impacts on the ozone layer due to the result of accumulating chlorine compound byproducts.  The northern arctic pole region has a history of a large hole in the ozone layer.  As the grounds warm; the stratosphere cools due to the reaction of rising greenhouse gases.  Then excessive chlorine containing compounds in the environment are held in the stratospheric clouds as temperatures in the arctic areas decrease.  This has resulted in massive ozone depletion.

The Arctic Ozone Hole

During ‘the mid-1980s, British researchers discovered an ozone hole in the lower stratosphere over Antarctica using a spectrometer’ (Palmer 2002).  This led to further research and interest in the area of the ozone layer found to be enlarging over time forming a hole.  This phenomenon is referred to as the “Ozone hole” or the “Antarctic Ozone hole.”  These phrases specifically refers to how ‘the ozone hole forms each year in the Southern Hemisphere spring (September-November) when there is a sharp decline (currently up to 60%) in the total ozone over most of Antarctica” (NOAA, 2008).  International treaties were signed later in the 1980’s to reduce and lower the amount of CFCs and Halons released into the atmosphere.

Ozone Depleting Chemicals

Chlorine containing compounds is destructive to the ozone layer and is believed to be from the historical use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons which date back since the 1920’s.  Interestingly enough “Many of the CFCs and related HCFCs have atmospheric lifetimes of 50-100 years or longer” (Arctic Action, N.d.).  These CFCs contribute to the chlorine byproduct that drifts up from commonly spray cans, refrigerants and coolants among other products that contain CFCs. 

Arctic Ozone Hole Now

Currently there is a reported record low temperature in the Arctic areas of the world.  ‘A global research team with satellite monitoring the ozone temperatures and levels in the most ozone-rich part of the stratosphere have dropped by about 50 percent, and about 30 percent overall, which is about as low as it has ever been, says researcher Rex (Marshall, 2011).  As the ozone shifts, the temperatures are still expected to drop and this is predicted to occur for the next couple decades to come.  Through 2005, the ozone destruction observed to be rising and fluctuating with peaks around ‘250 Dobson units’ (Welch, N.d.).  “Depletion values were steady from the 1990s to 2005 aside from low depletion values reported in 2002.’ (Welch, N.d.).  Over the past few decades there has been rising concerns due to a noticeable decrease in temperatures in the arctic areas resulting in ozone depletions.  These lowering temperatures allow chlorines to flourish and the ozone to deplete and an enlarging ozone hole to result.  Preserving the stratospheric ozone is important for our environment and general human health.  With ozone depletions due to lowering temperature in the ozone layer; there is increased potential for skin cancer due to increased ultraviolet rays exists with a receding ozone layer in the stratosphere. 


Arctic Action (No Date). Ozone depletion and the Arctic, Retrieved on March 18, 2011 from http://archive.greenpeace.org/climate/arctic99/reports/ozone.html

Marshall, J. (March 17th, 2011). Record Low Ozone in the Arctic, Discovery News, Retrieved on March 18, 2011 from http://news.discovery.com/earth/ozone-hole-arctic-110317.html

NOAA (March 20th, 2008). Science: The Antarctic Ozone Hole, Retrieved on March 18, 2011 from http://www.ozonelayer.noaa.gov/science/ozhole.htm

Palmer, A. (Jan 24th, 2002). Ozone Loss, PopSci, Retrieved on March 18, 2011 from http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2002-01/ozone-loss

Welch, C. (No date). The Ozone Hole, Retrieved on March 18, 2011 from http://www.theozonehole.com/arcticozone.htm