Paula Cleggett-Haleim Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

January 19, 1993 (Phone: 202/385-0885) Dolores Beasley Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. (301) 286-2806 Release: 93-13 1992 ANTARCTIC OZONE DEPLETION AS SEVERE AS ANY PREVIOUS YEAR Continuing observations by the Nimbus-7 and Meteor-3 Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) instruments have confirmed that the depletion of stratospheric ozone over Antarctica in 1992 was as severe as any previous year. In 1992, the "ozone hole" developed 1 to 2 weeks earlier than prior years. NASA scientists at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., also have confirmed that on Sept. 23, 1992, the Antarctic ozone hole was the largest on record. On that date, the surface area of the ozone hole reached 8.9 million square miles (24.35 million square kilometers), but fell off to less than 7.7 million square miles (20 million square kilometers) in early October. For comparison, the surface area of the North American continent is 9.4 million square miles. This past year's Antarctic ozone depletion was comparable to the 1990 ozone depletion in duration and depth, NASA scientists report. The 1992 ozone hole breakup began in early December, later than the normal mid-to-late November break-up. Late break-ups also occurred in 1987 and 1990. The hole, or area of ozone depletion, was still present as late as Nov. 30, 1992, when levels were still below 220 Dobson Units and the size was 1.7 million square miles (4.5 million square kilometers).

- more -2TOMS measured a record low of 110 Dobson Units on Oct. 6,1991. The lowest value reached in 1992, 124 Dobson Units, occurred on Sept. 27. However, this value is uncertain because balloon measurements found that ozone in the lowest part of the stratosphere was unusually low in 1992. It is possible that the actual value could have been as low as in 1991. The "ozone hole" is a large area of intense ozone depletion, below 220 Dobson units, over the Antarctic continent that typically occurs between late August and early October and typically breaks up in mid-November. One hundred Dobson Units equals a layer of gas one millimeter thick at the surface. Scientists have shown that man-made chlorine is the primary cause of ozone hole formation. The 1992 Antarctic ozone depletion also may have been affected by the continued presence of sulfuric acid droplets in the upper atmosphere created by the June 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. This data from the TOMS instrument onboard NASA's Nimbus-7 satellite is consistent with that of the TOMS onboard the Russian Meteor-3 satellite launched in August 1991. Both TOMS instruments are managed by Goddard for NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications, Washington, D.C. -endEditors Note: Two photographs are available to media representatives through NASA's Broadcast and Imaging Branch, 202/358-1900. The photo numbers are: B&W 93-H-6 93-H-7 Color 93-HC-5 93-HC-6