Stubborn Antarctic Ozone Hole refuses to change

Maybe it is because the major catalyst isn’t CFC’s after all? See this story:

Galactic Cosmic Rays May Be Responsible For The Antarctic Ozone Hole

In the conclusions of the paper here (PDF) there is this:

Thus, the above facts (1)–(5) force one to conclude that the CR[Cosmic Ray]-driven electron-induced reaction is the dominant mechanism for causing the polar O3 hole.

2002 ozone hole

From NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory:

Antarctic Ozone Hole Persists, At Least for Awhile

Major success in reducing ozone-depleting substances may not pay off in the Antarctic for several more years

August in Antarctica means the Sun starts rising over the horizon again, following four months of darkness. For NOAA Corps officer Nick Morgan (GMD), stationed at the South Pole, the month also marks the moment when he begins measuring ozone in earnest.

For most of the year, Morgan and his colleagues launch giant plastic balloons into the air about weekly. Tethered to the balloons are instruments that take ozone readings up to about 18 miles high.

Then, in the Antarctic spring (August through October), sunlight-sparked chemical reactions begin eating away at ozone. Scientists start making measurements more often, and by October, Morgan or his colleagues are outside in minus 80°F temperatures about every other day. Morgan and other scientists around the world are watching those data carefully, looking for evidence that the Antarctic ozone hole is beginning to heal after decades of hurt.

There’s scant evidence yet, from the balloon-borne instrumnets or others on the ground and on satellites: At the end of September, total ozone was at its annual low of 122 Dobson units. Typical fall, winter, and summertime levels are 250-300 Dobson units. The worst-of-the-year ozone levels have averaged 108 during the last 24 years.

It will be difficult to establish a clear-cut recovery trend in Antarctic ozone levels because seasonal cycles and other variable natural factors—from the temperature of the atmosphere to the stability of atmospheric layers—can make ozone levels dip and soar from one day to another, says NOAA ESRL scientist Bryan Johnson. But the time is coming, probably within a few decades, when ozone depletion will no longer be observed each spring, Johnson said.

“And within the next decade or so,” Johnson says, “observations are anticipated to begin showing reduced severity of the ozone hole.”

As soon as the Sun crosses the horizon again during the Antarctic spring, sunlight-triggered chemical reactions involving air pollutants begin destroying ozone in a region of the atmosphere called the stratosphere. The stratospheric ozone layer protects Earth from some damaging ultraviolet radiation, so an ozone hole means more of that radiation can hit the surface and trigger elevated rates of skin cancer and crop damage.

In the Antarctic, the ingredients for ozone depletion line up perfectly around September: Sunlight, low temperatures in the stratosphere, polar stratospheric clouds that help catalyze the destructive chemistry, and the continued presence of ozone-depleting chemicals, many of them released decades ago. Most years, those conditions ease by early December, and the hole closes.

“The ozone hole has taken somewhat of a back seat in the public eye,” Morgan wrote in a recent blog post from the South Pole.  “And maybe that is a sign of success.”

Levels of most ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere have declined significantly since the 1987 Montreal Protocol was signed, he noted.

That international treaty initiated the phasing out of chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), then used widely in refrigeration, as solvents, and in aerosol spray cans. The chemicals were breaking down in the stratosphere, and reactive parts—chlorine and bromine atoms—triggered ozone destruction, when conditions are ripe (sunlight, polar stratospheric clouds, cold temperatures).

International scientists contributing to the quadrennial 2010 Ozone Assessment— including many NOAA scientists—have calculated that although global stratospheric ozone may recover by midcentury, the ozone hole in the Antarctic will likely persist longer.

More: and… (video).


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What is the relative magnitude of the natural processes and the effect of man made cfc’s at their peak output?

Patrick Davis

Well, back in the ’80’s the hole over the Antarctic was attributed to CFC’s released in the NH. I don’t see how CFC’s are, somehow, magigically attracted to Antarctic pole.

So if those “destructive ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere have declined significantly”, how come the ozone hole has reached its maximum in 2006 and _maybe_ we will see its recovery next decade? It somehow does not add up.

UK John

I am worried about this because we were told that the Montreal Protocol had to be signed in 1989 to stop “The end of the World” according to the scientists and all the Environmental Campaigners.
Well the ozone depletion and the ozone hole is just as big as ever, but as yet I see no evidence of “The end of the World”.

Can I have my old fridge back please?


Was there ever a baseline measurement that showed that there was a state without the ‘hole’?


My question about the ozone hole has always been, “how do we know that it wasn’t always there?” It seemed that as soon as the technology was there to measure it that they found the “hole”. Then all the hand-wringing ensued culminating in the Montreal Protocol.
It’s the same issue as all the AGW business, why is what we “think” the environment/climate should be more correct that what it is? Especially when one considers that both of these systems are W – I – D – E – L – Y variable.

The sun creates ozone, the sun destroys ozone. It just depends on how it feels on any given day.

Steve Keohane

Excepting the high from late 2008-2010 CRs are as high now as they ever were in the past 45 years.
If CRs are indeed a catalyst, as from the first link above, the hole won’t be healing anytime soon.


Follow up on the Lu 2009 paper:


Where’s the proof that this hole hasn’t always existed (at least in the last millenium)?


I want my cheap Freon back!

Jacob Coburn

Another great post. I feel though that qualifying Q – B Lu’s work as proof that CFCs had little to do witht he ozone hole is a tad misleading because the paper itself says that cosmic rays influence the halogenated molecules and aid in the large losses of ozone in the polar regions, mostly the Antarctic, and that this means the road to recovery will not be monotonic as the ozone modellers thought. However, I would definitely agree that the issue was much more complex than many environmentalists led us to believe and that it offers little in the way of sound ideas regarding how to deal with any anthropogenic global warming we may have been/are experiencing.

This is the perfect example of assuming the cause is one thing based on 10 years of observations. Then when it doesn’t change later, it is shown the stated cause was wrong. Bromine, much like CO2, has a natural source in the oceans.
Once again the stated impact of mankind is vastly overblown.


Pffft – everyone knows that the ACTUAL cause of the “ozone hole” is people constantly launching balloons into the polar skies!
By the way, the clear fraudulence of the “ozone hole” scare was my personal awakening to how “scientists” lie, how “greens” twist what scientists see into lies, and how many people are easily fooled by bogus “science”.
The fact is, when the instruments to visualize the ozone layer were first deployed they found a hole, and the ONLY mechanism for this hole was assumed to be human industry.
On the one hand, this was a runup to the sheer gall of the “AGW” hoax. On the other, those who saw through the Ozone hoax are more likely to see through the “AGW” hoax.


“so an ozone hole means more of that radiation can hit the surface and trigger elevated rates of skin cancer and crop damage”
I don’t think there are a lot of people or crops in the antarctic, so how do they demonstrate that the hole in the ozone layer over the antarctic reduces the amount of ozone over people and crops?

Severian says:
November 12, 2010 at 8:26 am (Edit)
I want my cheap Freon back!

And my highly effective life saving halon fire extinguishers!

Bob Shapiro

Am I missing something? The post says that the O3 depleting reaction requires sunlight, stratospheric clouds (moisture), and cold temperatures.
Does the sun shine only at the poles?
Are there stratospheric clouds only near the poles?
Isn’t the temperature 18 miles up by the equator around -50 degrees?
So why is there an ozone hole only at the pole? Aren’t the necessary conditions for ozone depletion also present in the temperate & tropical zones?

Larry says:
November 12, 2010 at 8:59 am
……..I don’t think there are a lot of people or crops in the antarctic, so how do they demonstrate that the hole in the ozone layer over the antarctic reduces the amount of ozone over people and crops?
Regret the edges of the “hole” are not well defined, and in New Zealand (and probably South Australia and southern South America) the effects are very real
The sun here gets very fierce, and big campaigns by Government and NGO’s to “slip, slop, slap” abound
Compared to the Northern Hemisphere we do have a hugely increased exposure to UV – I have a “sensitive skin” – trust me I know what both feel like

Neil Jones
Jim Cripwell

I read somewhere that the ozone hole was a natural occurrence. Roughly, ozone is only created in the tropics, and migrates to the poles, In winter, the weather pattern (southern polar vortex?) is such, that the ozone cannot migrate to the south pole, though it can to the north pole. So in winter we have an ozone over the south pole as a result of Mother Nature. This then disappears in the spring when the vortex disappears.

Re Larry
Not speaking that the hole is formed predominantly in the southern winter time, when the Antarctic is pitch black all day. Isn’t it strange, Watson?

James Sexton

Ahh, a trip down bogus science memory lane. It is worthwhile and interesting to reflect upon the climate alarms of the past. In each and every alarm, the underlying cause was man’s industrialization and economic activity. Every one!

Djozar says: November 12, 2010 at 8:25 am
“Where’s the proof that this hole hasn’t always existed (at least in the last millenium)?”
This was the exact question I asked the two leading world authorities two years ago. My question was directed to the Max Planck institute and Cambridge University.
Instruments were developed to ‘see’ the hole in the 1950’s. Both institutions admit that it is quite possible the hole already existed but it couldn’t be measured. Just like Satellite readings therefore the ‘official’ view is that this problem has only ocurred in the last 40 years and it must be due to man.
Personally I think that like many natural events its cyclical.


As a chemist, I never for one minute believed that CFCs were in any way related to, much less causative, of the ozone hole. Nor that DDT and the effective chlorinated pesticides were toxic. I did and do know, however, that the malathion and permethrin classes of pesticides in current use were sensitizers and nerve gases, and that environmentalist policies have cost millions of lives over the years..
Poorly educated pseudo-scientists in Greenpeace, Sierra Club, WWF, etc. etc., have been in control of environmentalism for a long, long while. How do we defeat them and run them out of town?
I guess, “keep doin’ what you’re doin’, Anthony!”

Further to my post at 9.32
I think this is a more up to date study than the one being referenced in this thread.
Around a year ago I posted a new study by Qing Bin Lui on the possible reasons as to why the ozone hole hadn’t reduced substantially in line with modelled predictions.
Qing Bin Lui believed there was a relationship to cosmic rays (and man made Cfc’s).
I’m not sure I saw his recent study from June 2010 linked above given much publicity but it provides a very plausible explanation as to how CFC’s-rather than Co2-was the cause of warming from 1950 to 2000.
Personally I remain doubtful that we fully know the cause as I mentioned above in 9.32 as when asking the Max Planck institute and Cambridge University whether the ozone hole could always have existed and just couldn’t be measured before the 1950′s I was told this was ‘possible.’
Our knowledge of the atmosphere, sun and climate in general is at a far lower level than we believe.
Does anyone have any comments on the finger being pointed at cfc’s instead of Co2? Could someone provide an update of the state of the ozone ‘hole’ and comment as to whether it might have always been there?

Gene Zeien

Ozone is diamagnetic
The Earth’s magnetic field pushes ozone toward magnetic North. If the field reverses, the ozone hole will be over the Arctic. There will always be a “hole”, somewhere, unless the magnetic field goes to zero.

Sam Hall

Don’t have a source for this but I heard the the patent on the old Freon was running out. Be interesting if somebody with the right skills could find out for sure.


Chlorofluorocarbons : heavier than air
Ozone layer: above the tropopause
Any questions?


Ozone depletion is an interesting kinetics and catalysis problem. (I had a chemical kinetics class in grad school taught by F. Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina, who a few years later won the Nobel prize chemistry.) They had starting studying CFC’s to see how they might affect the local air polution in So. California but when they examined the spectroscopy of the molecules in ordinary daylight, they found that the CFC’s would not break apart and contribute to that problem. They then looked further into the UV and found that they could only be broken down by the short wavelengths at the top of the atmosphere, releasing chlorine radicals. These radicals then participated in the catalyzed decomposition of the O3 in the stratosphere. (By the way, keep in mind that O3 is also a result of a photochemical reaction where O2 is broken down by sunlight into atomic oxygen radicals that combine with two other O2 molecules to make the O3. O3 is relatively stable compare to the oxygen radicals. Also be advised that certain NOx compounds also play a role.) So when it comes down to it, the CFC’s are mearly a means to take chlorine to the upper atmosphere that otherwise could not make it there because they would have been washed out by weather and water at lower altitudes.
But the south pole is unique and quite different than the north pole in that a vortex easily forms that keeps the air in that region from circulating with the rest of the atmosphere in the southern hemisphere. So you get ice particles that can easily trap other chemicals and hold them until the antarctic spring when the sun shines on them again. This releases the chemicals that have built up on the surface of the ice particles that can catalyze the destruction of O3. It seems to have been presumed that the CFC’s derived chlorine is the culprit in breaking down the O3 resulting in the antarctic ozone hole but the ice crystals, cold temperatures and vortex at the pole provides an alternate path to bring chlorine and other compounds to the stratoshpere that can catalyze the decomposition of the O3. My question is has anyone looked carefully at the natural processes to bring catalytic components to the stratosphere that are unique in the antarctic and how big would the ozone hole be if there were no CFC’s involved?

I have never been completely comfortable with this whole Ozone hole thing. Just like AGW and CO2 it is more modeling and ideas, than empirical measurements and an accounting of all related factors. It has always seemed more a manufactured problem then a real one. Last time I looked not many people lived in the Antarctic and those that do are well protected from all atmospheric phenomena.

Al Cooper

…and Ozone (O3) is highly reactive and will break down into Oxygen (O2).
This is a good thing, otherwise all the Oxygen would have been changed to Ozone by
the sun eons ago.
When it is winter in the Antarctic the sun does not create Ozone (because the South Pole
is in the shade) and the Ozone that is there continues to break down resulting in less Ozone
and this is called a “hole”. When the sun again shines on the South Pole it makes more
Ozone and the “hole” goes away.
This should have been learned in high school chemistry.
High school chemistry (remember the Periodic table?) shows that Freon weights 4-8
times more than air. This means that you can pour Freon out on the ground and it will
stay there. It cannot reach the Ozone layer.
This in turn means that DuPont made a lot of money because of a Freon Scare Fraud.


Being a non-atmospheric scientist I have always wondered if vulcanism in the SH was possibly a primary driver of the O3 hole. My curiosity was truly piqued when Pinatubo blew and we suddenly had a NH O3 hole.

John T

“Severian says:
November 12, 2010 at 8:26 am
I want my cheap Freon back!”
I want my son’s cheap albuterol inhaler back.


One of the biggest environmental marketing con jobs ever was defining a ‘hole’ in the ozone layer as anything less than 220 Dobson units.
That level is reached most every Antarctic winter, and the ‘hole’ disappears once ultraviolet light again starts remaking ozone as the Sun comes back over the horizon. The ozone layer then returns to its usual summer values in the 300-400 unit Dobson unit range.
Dangers to Antarcticans because of increased solar ultraviolet light exposures due to lower ozone levels during Antarctic winter have never been a real issue … it is night, remember?
That simple scare word ‘hole’, a brilliant ploy by the Greens suggesting a fearsome absence of any ozone at all, has cost the world untold billions of dollars for no purpose whatsoever.

Jim Turner

“Bob Shapiro says:
November 12, 2010 at 9:09 am
So why is there an ozone hole only at the pole? Aren’t the necessary conditions for ozone depletion also present in the temperate & tropical zones?”
My understanding is that ozone is generated by solar uv, and so much more is generated in the tropics than the poles (more sunlight) hence the ozone layer is naturally always thinner at the poles. Ozone (O3) is unstable and recombines spontaneously to make molecular oxygen (O2), so ‘ozone depletion’ is a natural process; ozone only exists in the ozone layer because it is continually replenished – I think the half-life of ozone in the stratosphere is about 1 day. The protracted darkness of the polar winters naturally see a seasonal thinning of the ozone layer. The explanation that I have seen for the southern ‘hole’ being larger is due to the solar wind, this is deflected to the poles by the earth’s magnetic field and also partitioned: the negative electrons being deflected north and the positive protons south, the latter react with ozone and accelerate the depletion rate at the south pole relative to the north.
Contrary to the simplistic message of environmentalists that the southern ozone ‘hole’ is ’caused’ by CFCs, it actually appears to be quite natural that there is an ozone minimum at the southern pole. In answer to Bob’s question, as far as I have read, there is no reason why CFCs would act preferentially at the south pole, it is just that any effect would be more obvious there. The question I think is not why do CFCs cause an antarctic ozone hole, but to what extent, if at all, do they contribute to it.

Alberta Slim

“Tethered to the balloons are instruments that take ozone readings up to about 18 miles high.”
Is it possible that the Ozone layer rises above 18 miles and it is still there?

We have posted the following text several times, here in WUWT:
What if the water cycle is not closed but opened?. During summer time above the pole and due to increased radiation, atmosphere´s oxygen is turned into Ozone (O3), which during winter time and specially when there are proton flares from the sun or increased cosmic rays, as during solar minimums (mainly composed of protons-90%-, which, btw, we must remember are Hydrogen Nucleii), then these react with ozone to produce water 2H+…O3=H2O+O2 and increase the “Ozone Hole” once again , then snow fall increases ice. So we have an ice cube making machine over there.
Why do so many people make distinctions between states of matter, as they were totally different?….they LIKE THE SPIN, they change from one to the other and from the onther to the one…as they change of energy level (please check it while boiling water for your coffee):
We are currently deceived by Names and Tags. Time to change buddies…the 20th century is over!!!!

In any case…I am old too, and very…but to be old doesn’t mean to be fossilized, so I am younger than my grand kids. So, forget thinking the same way, or….a german MD will visit you soon. 🙂 and you’ll forget it!!!

Fred Harwood

Perhaps I’m just old, but I remember that Dobson, the father of the unit of ozone measurement, first measured very low units in Antarctica long ago. A few years later, several countries confirmed low levels, during some International Science jaunt. If so, the southern ozone hole is not new, and perhaps not significantly affected by CFCs.
Does anyone have a reference at hand to that early international ozone measurement?


Ozone is created by corona discharge or lightning or UV,it breaks O2 to reform into O3.WE are now in a very low O2 content atmosphere.It would seem that more CO2 would allow plants to create more O2 in turn allowing natural production of O3.


I think it’s possible that the earth’s magnetic poles are the mechanism that channels these charged particles towards the poles and this results in them accumulating at these regions where they destroy ozone. Just my 2 cents…
I also find this sentence interesting:
It was thus suggested that no further studies of the CR-driven mechanism for O3 deple- tion should be motivated.
My translation of it is, they don’t want scientists wasting time looking for natural ozone hole causes because they might just find one and this would then make them look bad.


AndiC says:
November 12, 2010 at 9:14 am
Larry says:
November 12, 2010 at 8:59 am
……..I don’t think there are a lot of people or crops in the antarctic, so how do they demonstrate that the hole in the ozone layer over the antarctic reduces the amount of ozone over people and crops?
Regret the edges of the “hole” are not well defined, and in New Zealand (and probably South Australia and southern South America) the effects are very real
The sun here gets very fierce, and big campaigns by Government and NGO’s to “slip, slop, slap” abound
Compared to the Northern Hemisphere we do have a hugely increased exposure to UV – I have a “sensitive skin” – trust me I know what both feel like
I am afraid this wrong and exposes a widespread misunderstanding about what causes cancer and sunburn.
The Ozone levels over Australia and New Zealand are extremely high. About the highest anywhere in the world.
These two countries also have very high usage of sunscreen.
Clearly the sun is also very fierce in these countries but no fiercer than in many southern european countries with lower ozone levels and less sunscreen use.
So how does one explain this paradox?
The science is not yet conclusive but the logic goes something like this.
The only real protection against skin cancer is a brown skin. For example skin cancer is almost unkown outside of the fair skinned races and amongst these races it is least common amongst trades with the greatest exposure to the sun, such as farmers and roofers.
The only way one can get a brown skin is by exposure to UVB (the medium wavelength version).
Ozone and sunscreens prevent the UVB reaching the skin and so prevent the build up of this protective layer. Neither of these prevent UVA reaching the skin. As far as we know UVA is just as capable of producing skin cancers as UVB but does not tan the skin although it will oxidise the melanin to change the appearance of the tan. So high ozone levels and high use of sunscreens would reduce melanin production and therefore increase the incidence of cancer.
If this latest research is confirmed it would suggest that one should not avoid the sun completely. The skin’s ability to produce melanin saturates after 30 minutes. So it would be wise to sunbathe before noon (when the ratio of UVB to UVA is highest) but
for thirty minutes only. Then cover up!
This is not the standared view of many doctors who assume that since UVB is more energetic than UVA it must be more harmful. However there appears to be little or no justification for this view. Since sunscreens cannot currently remove UVA without removing all the UVB the pharmaceutical companies would clearly like to keep everyone in the dark about this, so to speak!
However there are some new cremes currently being tested that can remove UVA and leave the UVB. My guess is that if these trial successfully there will suddenly be a huge number of “surprising” research results confirming that UVB is good for you after all.
That’s what science is these days – just part of the marketing department.


Sorry I left a line out of the above stating that Australia and New Zealand have the highest levels of skin cancer in the world despite high ozone levels and high sunscreen use. This is the paradox

Fred Harwood says:
November 12, 2010 at 11:09 am
The International Geophysical Year was in 1957.
BTW We have forgot ELECTRICITY: (Forget the “Flintstones’ Universe” !!!)
SinceEarth is electrically charged
, it maintains an electric field at its surface of between 50 and 200 volts per meter. In other words, for every meter of altitude the voltage increases by that measure.
Electromagnetic fields beneath thunderstorms increase to 10,000 volts per meter because the storms and the Earth act like the plates of a capacitor, storing electrical energy from the surrounding environment. A “wind” of charged particles blows toward the developing storm, which could be construed as an electric current flowing into the base of the clouds. The surrounding air is pulled along with the current flow, creating powerful updrafts that can occasionally rise into the stratosphere. Once the storm reaches a critical threshold, the stored energy is released as a lightning bolt.

Mike of FTG

Juraj V. says:
November 12, 2010 at 7:42 am
So if those “destructive ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere have declined significantly”, how come the ozone hole has reached its maximum in 2006 and _maybe_ we will see its recovery next decade? It somehow does not add up.
Of course it adds up, all environmental warnings are on a timeframe long enough to gouge a good living from the public purse without being held accountable. Hence, by 2025 or in coming decades or by the end of the century.

Eric Dailey

When Dupont was about to loose patent rights to Freon due to expiration they invented a replacement product R-3. They influenced science and legislation to get law to require their new product. All the infrastructure was changed so they could maintain exclusive royalties. We are all suckers.
Follow the money.

Pat Frank

Gene, diamagnetic means ozone doesn’t have any net internal magnetic field. That means an external magnetic field won’t impart any net momentum to ozone molecules.
Oxygen is paramagnetic, however. But Earth’s magnetic field is only 0.5 Gauss, which is nowhere near strong enough to overcome the thermal kinetic energy of oxygen gas molecules.

How much chlorine/freon/etc has actually been measured at various altitudes and locations, as opposed to just theorized?