London, April 30 : A new research has suggested that the recovery of the ozone hole above Antarctica could warm the Antarctic and cause more ice to melt in coming decades.
According to a report in Nature News, as the ozone hole heals, wind patterns that shield the interior of the polar region from warm air may break down, causing warming in the Antarctica as well as warmer and drier conditions in Australia.
Despite global temperatures rising, the interior of Antarctica has experienced a unique cooling trend during its summer and autumn over the last few decades.
Scientists attribute this cooling to the hole in the ozone layer, which alters atmospheric circulation patterns and strengthens the westerly winds that swirl around the continent.
These winds have isolated the Antarctic interior from the warming patterns seen on the continent's peninsula and throughout the rest of the world.
"The warming of the Antarctic may have been delayed because of the ozone hole," said atmospheric scientist Judith Perlwitz.
But due to the 1987 Montreal Protocol that banned the release of ozone-depleting substances, most scientists agree that the ozone hole has probably reached its largest and that ozone levels will recover by the end of the century.
If the Ozone hole goes through a full recovery, the world may finally see the interior of Antarctica begin to warm with the rest of the world.
For their research work, Perlwitz and her colleagues simulated the interaction between stratospheric ozone dynamics and atmospheric conditions between 1950 and the end of the twenty-first century.
They concluded that as ozone levels recover, the lower part of the stratosphere above Antarctica - some 10-20 kilometres above Earth's surface - will absorb more ultraviolet radiation, and rise in temperatures by as much as 9§C, reducing the existing strong north-south temperature gradient.
Along with balmier temperatures in Antarctica, a weakening of the westerly winds could also produce warmer and drier temperatures in Australia and increased precipitation in South America.