Antarctic Ozone Hole Getting Smaller, Scientists Find

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. shrink / ʃrɪŋk / (v) – to become smaller in size

    Researchers found that some icebergs in the North Pole shrank over the years because of climate change.

  2. deplete / dɪˈplit / (v) – to greatly decrease in number or amount

    The country’s water supply depleted last year because it did not rain the whole year.

  3. slightly / ˈslaɪt li / (adv) – in a degree that is very little

    I feel slightly better, but I still need to take a rest.

  4. man-made / ˈmænˈmeɪd / (adj) – created by human beings

    The pyramids of Egypt are one of the most legendary man-made structures ever built.

  5. on the road to recovery / ɒn ðə roʊd tʊ rɪˈkʌv ə ri / (idiom) – in the process of getting better or improving one’s condition

    The city was struck by tragedy months ago, but it is now on the road to recovery.


Read the text below.

Scientists discovered that the ozone hole over Antarctica shrank to its smallest size since it was discovered in 1982.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have observed that the Antarctic ozone hole measured an average of 9.3 million square kilometers this year. This is a major improvement from its peak in 2006 when it averaged 26.6 million square kilometers.

The ozone layer serves as a screen that keeps harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the Earth’s surface. However, chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) commonly found in aerosol sprays and refrigerators harm the ozone layer.

To reduce CFCs’ harmful effects, governments around the world created the Montreal Protocol, which bans the use of chemicals that deplete the ozone. The ban caused the hole to shrink slightly, and the ozone is expected to recover by 2070 as CFCs in the atmosphere decline.

However, while the hole’s shrinking is great news, NASA Chief Scientist Paul Newman said that it was not due to the efforts to reduce CFCs. Rather, the shrinking was caused by the unusually warm temperature in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Newman said that man-made compounds need cold temperatures to transform into chemicals that can destroy the ozone. However, when atmospheric temperatures are warmer, the chemicals do not form, and ozone destruction becomes limited. So, he explained that the phenomenon is actually due to irregular weather patterns in the Antarctic region and not to the fact that the ozone is on the road to recovery.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, how should people react to the fact that the hole’s shrinking was caused by irregular weather patterns? Discuss.
• Do you think the shrinking of the ozone hole will lead to a less strict implementation of the Montreal Protocol? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• In what ways can we ensure that international policies like the Montreal Protocol are implemented strictly?
• Do you think countries that do not follow these international policies should be given penalties? Explain.