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What is the wind pattern over Antarctica that isolates the ozone hole?


A cyclonic vortex (low pressure) occurs over the Antarctic in the mid-Troposphere to lower Stratosphere layer of the atmosphere. This is not a surface weather pattern. The cyclonic circulation results from the strong temperature gradient between the almost circular and very cold Antarctic continent and warmer, primarily oceanic, areas north of Antarctica.

No sunlight for nearly three months during winter allows Antarctica, and the atmosphere above it, to cool dramatically, with air sinking over Antarctica. You can see a good explanation of the meteorology at

Towards the end of winter, when the Sun comes up and illuminates the "ozone layer", photochemical destruction of ozone occurs, from a reaction of nitric acid, bromine, and CFCs, on stratospheric clouds to release chlorine atoms.

David R. Cook
Climate Research Section
Environmental Science Division
Argonne National Laboratory

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