Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 21:23 EDT
2003 Ozone Hole
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2003 Ozone Hole

September 26, 2003
This year’s Antarctic ozone hole is the second largest ever observed, according to scientists from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). The Antarctic ozone hole is defined as thinning of the ozone layer over the continent to levels significantly below pre-1979 levels. Ozone blocks harmful ultraviolet B rays. Loss of stratospheric ozone has been linked to skin cancer in humans and other adverse biological effects on plants and animals.

The size of this year’s Antarctic ozone hole reached 10.9 million square miles on September 11, 2003, slightly larger than the North American continent, but smaller than the largest ever recorded, on September 10, 2000, when it covered 11.5 million square miles. Last year the ozone hole was smaller, covering 8.1 million square miles.