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Measuring Ozone Depletion

The most common stratospheric ozone measurement unit is the Dobson Unit (DU). The Dobson Unit is named after the atmospheric ozone pioneer G.M.B. Dobson who carried out the earliest studies on ozone in the atmosphere from the 1920s to the 1970s. A Dobson Unit measures the total amount of ozone in an overhead column of the atmosphere. Dobson Units are measured by how thick the layer of ozone would be if it were compressed into one layer at 0 degrees Celsius and with a pressure of one atmosphere above it. Every 0.01 millimetre thickness of the layer is equal to one Dobson Unit.

The average amount of ozone in the stratosphere across the globe is about 300 DU (or a thickness of only 3mm at 0°C and 1 atmospheric pressure!). Highest levels of ozone are usually found in the mid to high latitudes, in Canada and Siberia (360DU). When stratospheric ozone falls below 200 DU this is considered low enough to represent the beginnings of an ozone hole. Ozone holes of course commonly form during springtime above Antarctica, and to a lesser extent the Arctic.