Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Balloon-borne observations of the development and vertical structure of the Antarctic ozone hole in 1986


A springtime deficit in Antarctic stratospheric ozone has been developing over recent years1,2. Here we describe the vertical distribution of ozone which was measured at McMurdo Station, Antarctica (78 °S), using balloon borne sensors, on 33 occasions during the period 25 August–6 November 1986. These observations suggest a highly structured cavity confined to the 12–20 km altitude region. In the 17–19 km altitude range, the ozone volume mixing ratio declined from about 2 p.p.m. at the end of August to about 0.5 p.p.m. by mid-October. The average decay in this region can be described as exponential with a half life of about 25 days. While total ozone, as obtained from profile integration, declined only about 35%, the integrated ozone between 14 and 18 km declined more than 70%. Vertical ozone profiles in the vortex revealed unusual structure with major features from 1 to 5 km thick which had suffered ozone depletions as great as 90%.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Farman, J. C., Gardiner, B. G. & Shanklin, J. D. Nature 315, 207–210. (1985).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Stolarski, R. S. et al. Nature 322, 808–811 (1986).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Chubachi, S. in Atmospheric Ozone, 285–289 (Reidel, Dordrecht, 1984).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Hofmann, D. J., Rosen, J. M., Harder, J. W. & Rolf, S. R. Geophys. Res. Lett. 13, 1252–1255 (1986).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. McCormick, M. P., Steele, H. M., Hamill, P., Chu, W. P. & Swissler, T. J. J. atmos. Sci. 39, 1387–1397 (1982).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Hamill, P., Toon, O. B. & Turco, R. P. Geophys. Res. Lett. 13, 1288–1291 (1986).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Standford, J. L. Tellus 29, 530–534 (1977).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Toon, O. B., Hamill, P., Turco, R. & Pinto, J. Geophys. Res. Lett. 13, 1284–1287 (1986).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Crutzen, P. J. & Arnold, F. Nature 324, 651–655 (1986).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Solomon, S., Garcia, R. R., Rowland, F. S. & Wuebbles, D. J. Nature 321, 755–758 (1986).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. McElroy, M. B., Salawitch, R. J., Wofsy, S. C. & Logan, J. A. Nature 321, 759–762 (1986).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hofmann, D., Harder, J., Rolf, S. et al. Balloon-borne observations of the development and vertical structure of the Antarctic ozone hole in 1986. Nature 326, 59–62 (1987).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing