ozone hole
False-color view of total ozone over the Antarctic pole. Purple and blue represent areas where there is the least ozone, yellows and reds where there is more ozone. Credit: NASA Ozone Hole Watch.
Yes and no. The ozone hole is basically a man-made hole in the ozone layer above the South Pole during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring. The ozone layer, which lies high up in the atmosphere, shields us from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that come from the Sun. Unfortunately we punched a hole in it, through the use of gases like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in spray cans and refrigerants, which break down ozone molecules in the upper atmosphere.

While some extra of the Sun’s UV rays slip through the ozone hole, their net effect is to cool the stratosphere more than they warm the troposphere. So this increase in UV rays cannot explain the global warming of the planet's surface.

What scientists have uncovered recently, however, is that the ozone hole has been affecting climate in the Southern Hemisphere. That’s because ozone is also a powerful greenhouse gas, and destroying it has made the stratosphere (the second layer of the atmosphere going upwards) over the Southern Hemisphere colder. The colder stratosphere has resulted in faster winds near the pole, which somewhat surprisingly can have impacts all the way to the equator, affecting tropical circulation and rainfall at lower latitudes. The ozone hole is not causing global warming, but it is affecting atmospheric circulation.

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