May 1985: A gaping hole

This year, Nature celebrates its 150th birthday. To mark this anniversary we’re rebroadcasting episodes from our PastCast series, highlighting key moments in the history of science.

The discovery of the ozone hole in the mid-1980s was a shock. Scientists suspected that man-made gases called CFCs were damaging the ozone layer, but they didn’t expect to see such a dramatic decline. Nor did they expect the discovery to be made by a small group of British scientists in Antarctica. In this podcast, we hear from the ‘little voice’ in the background whose persistence led to the reporting of the reduced ozone in Nature in May 1985. But how did it become known as the ‘ozone hole’? And what lessons are there for climate change scientists today?

This episode was first broadcast in May 2013. Sound effects courtesy of stormpetrel, mansardian and sempoo at

From the archive

Large losses of total ozone in Antarctica reveal seasonal ClOx/NOx interaction, by Farman et al.

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