Hole in ozone layer expected to grow after Tonga volcano erupts

Hole in ozone layer expected to grow after Tonga volcano erupts

Despite having declined significantly in recent years, the ozone hole is expected to see an increase in the near future. The process is a consequence of the massive eruption of the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, located in the Pacific Ocean, in January 2022.

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With so many pessimistic scenarios regarding climate change and the lack of effective policies to stop them, successful cases deserve to be praised. One of them was the recovery of the hole in the ozone layer: since the global ban on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), in the late 1980s, the filter against UV radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere has been regenerating at a good pace.

The record eruption of the submarine volcano, however, will leave a slight delay in this process. The event was the largest eruption recorded with modern technology and its plume reached an altitude of about 58 kilometers, reaching the mesosphere — the third layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. The amount of water released as a result was so great that the amount of this substance in the stratosphere — where the ozone layer is — increased by 10%.

According to experts, the effect of the water will be a cooling of the stratosphere at low latitudes in the coming years, which will create a favorable environment for the CFCs to act on the ozone. As these substances have a lifetime of over 50 years, the same gases that were emitted before their ban are still present.

The increase from the eruption has not yet been observed in 2023, but scientists expect that next summer in Antarctica it will already appear. In any case, the growth will be temporary and does not worry the specialists, since the tendency is for the hole in the ozone layer to close again and to be almost completely recovered around 2060.

Source: Space.com