Santa is safe.
The largest ozone hole ever recorded has officially closed, scientists recently announced. The massive ozone hole, three times larger than Greenland, first opened in late March due to unusual wind conditions that trapped frigid air over the North Pole for several weeks.
Researchers from the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) were tracking the giant ozone hole. They tweeted in late April:
“The unprecedented 2020 Northern Hemisphere ozone hole has come to an end.”
The unprecedented 2020 northern hemisphere #OzoneHole has come to an end. The #PolarVortex split, allowing #ozone-rich air into the Arctic, closely matching last week's forecast from the #CopernicusAtmosphere Monitoring Service.
— Copernicus ECMWF (@CopernicusECMWF) April 23, 2020
Earth’s ozone layer resides in the stratosphere and it is primarily responsible for filtering harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the Sun. Unfiltered, the radiation can destroy crops, disrupt marine ecosystems, and cause skin cancer in humans. Degradation of the ozone layer can be caused by harmful chemicals that are commonly used in refrigerators, aerosols, and industrial processes.
However, it appears this massive hole was not solely caused by human intervention but by a polar vortex. Live Science explained that a polar vortex is when winds create a circular cage of cold air, forming high-altitude clouds. The clouds mix with human-made chemicals such as chlorine and bromine, eating away at the ozone layer.
The scientists took pains, however, to explain that the “healing” of the giant ozone hole was probably not due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, which reduced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide due to global lockdowns.
On Twitter they wrote:
“COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns probably had nothing to do with this.
“It’s been driven by an unusually strong and long-lived polar vortex, and isn’t related to air quality changes.”