With sunrise finally arriving and the South Pole beginning six straight months of daytime, destruction of protective ozone continues high above in the stratosphere. As can be seen in the plot above, 2016 continues marching toward a minimum measurement of total column ozone during the annual formation of the Antarctic Ozone Hole. Scientists at Boulder’s Global Monitoring Division anxiously await each new profile to see how this year will progress. In 2014, an unstable polar vortex allowed relatively warm, higher ozone air in at the beginning of October, while in 2015 the vortex was extremely stable allowing depleted ozone to remain overhead all the way in to December. As we move in to October, how will this year’s appearance of the Antarctic Ozone Hole progress?
Changing to a vertical representation, we can clearly see where the majority of ozone destruction is occurring. As seen in the left graph, the red line representing the most recent measurement has plunged toward zero in the 12-22km altitude compared to the July/August average represented in blue. The shaded grey areas are the statistical averages since 1991 for this specific date (+/- 3 days) and the profile falls right in line. Stratospheric air temperatures remain cold, as seen in the right graph. If the Antarctic Polar Vortex remains intact, preventing warm, ozone rich air from the mid latitudes mixing in, we should continue to see catalytic ozone destruction above the South Pole well in to October.