Antarctic Ozone Hole
October 04, 2000
This map produced by NASA's Total Ozone Mapping Spectometer (TOMS) on September 6, 2000 shows the largest ozone hole (blue color) ever observed over Antarctica. It's three times the size of the US and covers an area about 11 million square miles. The previous record ozone hole was recorded two years earlier on September 19, 1998 and covered 10.5 million square miles. The lowest ozone readings are typically observed in September or early October when sunlight returns to the Antarctic stratosphere. Ozone molecules, which are made up of three atoms of oxygen, comprize a thin layer of the atmosphere that varies in altitude between 6 miles and 18 miles above the Earth's surface. This ozone is essential in absorbing ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, which in high levels can be harmful to nearly all forms of life.