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A quarter of a century has now passed since ozone depletion in Antarctica was first discovered by scientists from the Bristis Antarctic Survey. What is the current status of the ozone hole and its expected recovery?


Antarctica is a frozen, windswept continent, so hostile and remote that it has no permanent inhabitants. Scientists working here have made many discoveries from studying Antarctica’s land and atmosphere, and from clues buried beneath the ice. These discoveries also reveal signs of changes in the future that could affect us all.
Antarctica is also the world’s last great wilderness and also has a profound effect on the world’s climate and ocean systems. Antarctica is therefore a unique natural laboratory for the study of global processes, such as climate change and ozone depletion.

Indeed, scientists from British Antarctic Survey began monitoring ozone during the International Geophysical Year of 1957–58. In 1985 scientists discovered that since the mid 1970s ozone values over Halley and Faraday research stations had been steadily dropping when the sun reappeared each spring. Something in the stratosphere (about 20km above Earth) was destroying ozone. This discovery changed the world.

NASA scientists used their satellite data to confirm that not only was the hole over British research stations but it covered the entire Antarctic continent. International efforts by scientists and politicians then led to steps to control the production and use of CFCs and other ozone depleting chemicals. The resulting Montreal Protocol (1987) and its subsequent amendments is a successful example of leadership by all the world's governments in tackling a global environmental issue.

Source: British Antarctic Survey
To learn more about Antarctica, please visit:


OzonAction Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) decided to embark on an investigative journey through the history and science of the ozone layer, the actions taken to address this major environmental threat and the consequences both for the ozone layer and the Earth's climate system.

The resulting documentary, The Antarctic Ozone Hole: From Discovery to Recovery, examines the current state of the ozone layer, the effects of ozone depletion on climate change and the potential impact on communities worldwide.

This scientific journey, which had a worldwide screening on 16th September 2011 to mark the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, is not a portrait of a planet in crisis but rather has experts from NASA, the British Antarctic Survey, Colombia University and other leading ozone researchers who offer hope and solutions to reducing ozone depletion. Indeed, they show that the Montreal Protocol, which covers ozone depleting substances (ODS), can deliver immediate climate benefits.


Climate Change Impacts – what the IPCC 4th Assessment Report has found:

- The Antarctic pearlwort and the Antarctic hair grass currently occur in niche habitats on the Antarctic continent. Their increased abundance and distribution was ascribed to the increasing summer temperatures. Climate change is also affecting the vegetation, which is largely composed of algae, lichens and mosses, and changes are expected in future, as temperature, and water and nutrient availability change [].

- The progressive warming in the Southern Ocean has been associated with major regional changes in terrestrial and marine ecosystems, in areas that have experienced warming. Increasing abundance of shallow water sponges and their predators, declining abundances of krill (with an increase in salp abundance), Adelie and Emperor penguins and Weddell seals have all been recorded [TS4.2, &].

- Pelagic productivity/Zooplankton abundance/plankton assemblages: Biological responses to regional changes in temperature, stratification, up-welling, and other hydro-climatic changes in the Southern Ocean [].

- Direct measurements reveal considerable spatial variability in temperature trends in Antarctica [15.2.1]

- Changes on the Antarctic Peninsula, subAntarctic islands and Southern Ocean have been rapid and dramatic impacts are expected [TS4.2]:

- Pole-ward migration of existing species and competition from invading species [TS4.2]

- There is evidence for freshening in the Ross Sea, probably linked to glacier melt [].




14,000,000 km2
Total Area
approx, 1000