The seasonal hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica has widened to near-record size according to the United Nations.
The size of the hole in the ozone layer above the Antarctic fluctuates, usually at its largest during spring when extremely cold temperatures mix with the returning sunlight to release chlorine radicals that destroy ozone.
“This is the third largest observed after the record-breaking ozone holes in 2000 and 2006,” the UN’s climate and weather agency said in a statement. It is an average of 26.9 million square kilometres, larger that all of North America.
This news comes as the sun sets for the last time this year over Antarctica. The continent will now have 24-hour daylight. The final sunset marks the coming of summer to the frozen continent, but it will still be far from summer as we know it.
Between December and February, temperatures are generally close to freezing around the coast, and slightly above zero degrees in the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula.