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Ozone Depletion

Ozone Hole

In some of the popular news media, as well as in many books, the term "ozone hole" has and often still is used far too loosely. Frequently, the term is employed to describe any episode of ozone depletion, no matter how minor. Unfortunately, this sloppy language trivialises the problem and blurs the important scientific distinction between the massive ozone losses in polar regions and the much smaller, but nonetheless significant, ozone losses in other parts of the world.

Technically, the term "ozone hole" should be applied to regions where stratospheric ozone depletion is so severe that levels fall below 200 Dobson Units (D.U.), the traditional measure of stratospheric ozone. Normal ozone concentration is about 300 to 350 D.U. Such ozone loss now occurs every springtime above Antarctica, and to a lesser extent the Arctic, where special meteorological conditions and very low air temperatures accelerate and enhance the destruction of ozone loss by man-made ozone depleting chemicals (ODCs).