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2012 Ozone Hole Smallest in 10 Years February 15, 2013
Satellite Image
The Antarctic ozone hole was approaching the maximum depletion at the end of this animation.
The hole in the stratospheric ozone over Antarctica has shrunk to the smallest size in a decade, according to satellite observations.

The shrinkage is believed to be a sign that the ozone hole is closing very slowly.

The swirling area of depleted ozone typically reaches its maximum geographical coverage around the South Pole in late September and its maximum depth in early October.

The ozone depletion allows harmful ultraviolet radiation to reach Earth's surface rather than being filtered out by the gas.

Until a global ban on the production of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons was adopted in 1987, there had been a steady decline of about 4 percent per decade in the total volume of Earth’s stratospheric ozone.

A slow reversal in the trend has been observed over the past decade even though there was a record ozone loss in 2011 due to unusual weather patterns.

Scientists say the ozone hole will vary in size from year to year as it continues to close up in the decades ahead.

Animation: Ozone Hole Watch