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Southern Africa Experiences Warming Due to Hole in Ozone Layer

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manatsa_imagesResearchers have found reason to believe the southern tip of Africa is abnormally warm due to the ozone hole over Antarctica. In the journal Nature Geoscience, the research team shows how the ozone hole is causing wind patterns to change and that is causing the abnormal warming of the African continent.

Every summer, Africa is impacted by a low pressure system called the Angola Low. This low pressure system pulls warm air from the lower latitudes and warms up the lower half of the continent. Within the last 20 years, however, this rate of warming has rapidly increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers looked to the ozone layer which was believed to be depleted by CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons).

Studying temperature data since the 1980s, they found as the hole increased in size, temperatures in southern Africa increased as well. Westerly winds surrounding Antarctica are believed to be the driving force of the Angola Low. More clouds are pushed towards the South Pole changing how much heat can be released into the atmosphere. This added heat intensifies the Angola Low causing more warm air to be pulled from the equator and increasing temperatures on the African continent.

The hole in the ozone layer is largely due to human influence through the use of CFCs in aerosols and refrigerants. Since its discovery in the 1980s, CFCs have since been banned and the hole is disappearing. Scientists expect it to be completely closed up by the year 2065. Though humans have certainly contributed to this, there are atmospheric processes at work that have deepened the effects of the depleted ozone layer.

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