Massive Hole In Ozone Found

It may be the last time we ever see a hole so bad in the ozone layer over the South Pole. There is a massive opening as big as the United States and Canada combined. CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen reports.

"This is how it's grown over the last 20 years. The blue area expanding ever larger up to now, when the winter down under was particularly harsh. Temperatures were nearly 200 degrees below zero in the lower atmosphere. That's a minus 90 centigrade," says NASA Scientist Rich McPeters.

When temperatures get down to about a minus 90 or so centigrade, that's trouble.

Researcher Bob Dezafra told us from Antarctica today that global warming, which heats things up elsewhere, makes the bottom of the world much colder and may have been the cause.

"The ozone hole started earlier this year and it just went on being more severe from the very beginning," says Researcher Bob Dezafra.

The swirling red rings in the NASA satellite data indicates higher levels of ozone and the red area is expected

NASA depiction of the hole in the ozone layer
to grow as the last of ozone depleting chemicals disappear from use. Scientists say ozone loss should peak next year and the protective shield should start to thicken over the next decade.

Very good news, especially in the Southern Hemisphere where less ozone has meant higher levels of harmful UV rays from the sun and an increased danger of cancer. Still, it will take another half century to get ozone levels back to where they were in the late 70's. And there's still that wild card, global warming, at play.

Reported by CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen