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A map of the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica on Oct. 20. Photo: NASA

The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica has shrunk to the smallest size since it was discovered by scientists in the 1980s, NASA said in a statement this week.

Yes, but: "It’s not a sign that atmospheric ozone is suddenly on a fast track to recovery," said Paul Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in the statement. It's important to recognize that what "we’re seeing this year is is due to warmer stratospheric temperatures," he said.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The big picture: Scientists from NASA and NOAA who monitor the hole in the ozone are still trying to understand the rare shrinkage event that they believe is weather-related, according to Susan Strahan, an atmospheric scientist with Universities Space Research Association, who works at NASA Goddard.

  • "If the warming hadn’t happened, we’d likely be looking at a much more typical ozone hole," Strahan said in the statement.
  • This is the third time in the past 40 years that weather systems have caused warm temperatures that limit ozone depletion, Strahan said. In September 1988 and 2002, similar weather patterns produced atypically small ozone holes, she said.

By the numbers: NASA and NOAA satellite measurements show the annual ozone hole reached its peak extent of 6.3 million square miles on Sept. 8, and then shrank to less than 3.9 million square miles for the rest of the month through October.

"During years with normal weather conditions, the ozone hole typically grows to a maximum area of about 8 million square miles in late September or early October."
— NASA statement

But, but, but: There is still reason to cheer at the news. NASA scientist Paul Newman told AP it means there's more ozone covering the Southern Hemisphere and "less ultraviolet radiation at the surface."

  • NASA says the 1987 treaty the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, signed by almost 200 countries to regulate the consumption and production of ozone-depleting compounds, is also starting to have a positive impact.
  • The ozone hole over Antarctica is expected to gradually become less severe as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which used to be found in refrigerators and aerosols but were banned under the protocol, are declining. "Scientists expect the Antarctic ozone to recover back to the 1980 level around 2070," NASA said.

Go deeper: Chinese factories are using banned ozone-depleting chemicals

Go deeper

Updated 5 mins ago - World

Australia joins U.S. in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australia is joining the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest of human rights abuses committed by China's government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: After the Biden administration's announcement that U.S. officials won't attend the Games due to the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of China, Morrison said at a Sydney briefing that Australia would follow suit as "it's the right thing to do."

Progressives to file resolution to strip Boebert's committee seats

Rep. Lauren Boebert walking through the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House progressives are planning to introduce a resolution on Wednesday to strip Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) of her committee assignments, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The move, which was first reported by the Washington Post, comes as progressives — anxious to see the right-wing firebrand face retribution for her recent comments — have grown frustrated by Democratic leadership's inaction on the issue.

Roger Stone won't cooperate with Jan. 6 panel

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone speaking in front of the Supreme Court on Jan. 5 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone won't cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and will invoke the Fifth Amendment right not to testify, his attorney said Tuesday evening.

Why it matters: The announcement, first reported by ABC News, came hours after former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he wouldn't cooperate with the probe.