Chemical ozone destruction occurs over both polar regions in local winter–spring. In the Antarctic, essentially complete removal of lower-stratospheric ozone currently results in an ozone hole every year, whereas in the Arctic, ozone loss is highly variable and has until now been much more limited. Here we demonstrate that chemical ozone destruction over the Arctic in early 2011 was—for the first time in the observational record—comparable to that in the Antarctic ozone hole. Unusually long-lasting cold conditions in the Arctic lower stratosphere led to persistent enhancement in ozone-destroying forms of chlorine and to unprecedented ozone loss, which exceeded 80 per cent over 18–20 kilometres altitude. Our results show that Arctic ozone holes are possible even with temperatures much milder than those in the Antarctic. We cannot at present predict when such severe Arctic ozone depletion may be matched or exceeded.

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We thank the MLS (especially A. Lambert, D. Miller, W. Read, M. Schwartz, P. Stek, J. Waters), OMI (especially P. K. Bhartia, G. Jaross, G. Labow), CALIPSO and Match science teams, as well as A. Douglass, J. Joiner and the Aura project, for their support. We also thank W. Daffer and R. Fuller for programming assistance at JPL; the many observers whose work went into obtaining the ozone-sonde measurements; the ozone scientists who participated in the discussion of the 2011 Arctic ozone loss and appropriate definition of an Arctic ozone hole (including, but not limited to, N. Harris, G. Bodeker, G. Braathen, M. Kurylo, R. Salawitch); and especially P. Newman and K. Minschwaner for discussions and comments. Meteorological analyses were provided by NASA’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) and by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. We thank S. Pawson of GMAO for advice on usage of the MERRA reanalysis. Ozone-sonde measurements at Alert, Eureka, Resolute Bay, Churchill and Goose Bay were funded by Environment Canada. Additional ozone sondes were flown at Eureka as part of the Canadian Arctic Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE) Validation Campaign and were funded by the Canadian Space Agency. Academy of Finland provided partial funding for performing and processing ozone-sonde measurements in Jokioinen and Sodankylä. Ozone soundings and work at AWI were partially funded by the EC DG Research through the RECONCILE project. Work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, and at Science Systems and Applications Inc., was done under contract with NASA.

Author information


  1. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91109, USA

    • Gloria L. Manney
    • , Michelle L. Santee
    • , Nathaniel J. Livesey
    •  & Lucien Froidevaux
  2. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, New Mexico 87801, USA

    • Gloria L. Manney
  3. Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany

    • Markus Rex
    • , Ingo Wohltmann
    • , Ralph Lehmann
    • , Hartwig Gernandt
    •  & Peter von der Gathen
  4. NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia 23681, USA

    • Michael C. Pitts
  5. Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, 3730 AE De Bilt, The Netherlands

    • Pepijn Veefkind
    •  & Pieternel F. Levelt
  6. Delft University of Technology, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands

    • Pepijn Veefkind
    •  & Pieternel F. Levelt
  7. Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Lanham, Maryland 20706, USA

    • Eric R. Nash
    •  & David P. Haffner
  8. Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia 23666, USA

    • Lamont R. Poole
  9. Science and Technology Corporation, Lanham, Maryland 20706, USA

    • Mark R. Schoeberl
  10. Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3H 5T4

    • Jonathan Davies
    • , C. Thomas McElroy
    •  & David W. Tarasick
  11. Central Aerological Observatory, Dolgoprudny 141700, Russia

    • Valery Dorokhov
  12. NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado 80305, USA

    • Bryan Johnson
  13. Arctic Research Center, Finnish Meteorological Institute, 99600 Sodankylä, Finland

    • Rigel Kivi
    •  & Esko Kyrö
  14. Danish Climate Center, Danish Meteorological Institute, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Niels Larsen
  15. Eindhoven University of Technology, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands

    • Pieternel F. Levelt
  16. Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St Petersburg 199397, Russia

    • Alexander Makshtas
    •  & Nikita S. Zinoviev
  17. National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba-city, 305-8506, Japan

    • Hideaki Nakajima
  18. National Institute for Aerospace Technology, 28850 Torrejón De Ardoz, Spain

    • Maria Concepción Parrondo
  19. University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1A7

    • Kaley A. Walker


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G.L.M. and M.L.S. led analysis of MLS data; M.R. led analysis of ozone-sonde data; G.L.M. led the meteorological data analysis. M.R., G.L.M., N.J.L. and I.W. did chemical ozone loss calculations. R.L. and M.R. performed and analysed chemical box model calculations. M.C.P. and L.R.P. provided CALIPSO/CALIOP data analyses; E.R.N. and P.V. provided TOMS and OMI data analyses. L.F., M.L.S., G.L.M. and N.J.L. provided expertise on MLS data usage; D.P.H., P.V. and P.F.L. provided expertise on OMI data usage. J.D., V.D., H.G., B.J., R.K., E.K., N.L., A.M., C.T.M., H.N., M.C.P., D.W.T., P.v.d.G., K.A.W. and N.S.Z. were responsible for performing and processing ozone-sonde measurements. All authors contributed comments on the manuscript. G.L.M., M.L.S. and M.R. jointly compiled and synthesized the results. G.L.M. and M.L.S. wrote the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Gloria L. Manney or Michelle L. Santee.

CALIOP data are publicly available at http://eosweb.larc.nasa.gov/PRODOCS/calipso/table_calipso.html, MLS data at http://disc.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/Aura/data-holdings/MLS, OMI data at http://disc.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/Aura/data-holdings/OMI/omto3_v003.shtml, and GEOS-5 MERRA analyses through http://disc.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/mdisc/data-holdings/merra/. The balloon-borne Antarctic ozone-sonde data recorded in 1985 and the following years are publicly available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.547983.

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    The data shows Arctic Ozone Data

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    Supplementary Data 1B

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