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2003 ozone hole has gone, U.N. says
Thu Nov 20 2003 10:54:58 ET

The seasonal 'ozone hole' over the South Pole has disappeared again after reaching record size earlier this year, U.N. officials said Thursday. ``The ozone hole size and persistence have developed similarly to the year 2000, with an early rapid growth observed during August, a record size observed in September and finally its disappearance in mid-November,'' said a statement by the World Meteorological Organization.

The hole, a thinner-than-usual area in the protective layer of gas high up in the earth's atmosphere, has been forming in the extremely low temperatures that mark the end of Antarctic winter every year since the mid-1980s, largely due to chemical pollution.

This year the hole peaked at 28 million square kilometers (10.81 million square miles) in mid-September _ matching the record size set three years ago.

Scientists have said the phenomenon results from destruction of the gas in the atmosphere by chemical compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons released in some aerosols and refrigerants. The hole refills with surrounding ozone-rich air as temperatures rise.

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