The ozone layer is a natural, protective layer of gas in the stratosphere that shields life from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation—which is associated with skin cancer and cataracts, as well as other environmental issues.
The ‘ozone hole’ most commonly referenced is the hole over Antarctica, forms each year during autumn.
Scientists using data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite have noticed a strong reduction of ozone concentrations over the Arctic. Unusual atmospheric conditions, including freezing temperatures in the stratosphere, have led ozone levels to plummet—causing a ‘mini-hole’ in the ozone layer.
In the past, mini ozone holes have occasionally been spotted over the North Pole, but the depletion over the Arctic this year is much larger compared to previous years.
The Tropomi instrument on the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite measures a number of trace gases, including aerosol and cloud properties with a global coverage on a daily basis.
Given the importance of monitoring air quality and global ozone distribution, the upcoming Copernicus Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5 missions will monitor key air quality trace gases, stratospheric ozone, and aerosols.
As part of the EU’s Copernicus program, the missions will provide information on air quality, solar radiation and climate monitoring.
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