The 1998 Antarctic ozone hole is unusually large and formed very early.
Dr Stephen Wood, NIWA, Scott Base, Antarctica
According to preliminary NASA satellite data it is now the largest on record, last week covering more than 27 million square kilometres, around 5% larger that the previous record set in 1996. Like the 1996 ozone hole, it developed much more rapidly in late August and early September than other years. However, this year the ozone hole has remained stable for longer and is now 20-25% larger than the 1996 ozone hole was on this date.
Observations in the tropical Pacific confirm that a La Niña event is now under way and is continuing to strengthen. "It looks like this La Niña is shaping up to be the most significant since the 1988/89 La Niña", says NIWA climate scientist Dr Jim Renwick. "Sea temperatures in the critical region along the equator in the central Pacific are now well below average."
A joint New Zealand-German marine scientific expedition costing over of $2.5 million will explore a series of undersea volcanoes including "Rumble III" 200 kilometres north of East Cape. It will also carry out geophysical surveying and seabed rock sampling along the South Pacific "Ring of Fire" in the latitudes of the southern Kermadec Islands.
Developing atmospheric conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean point to La Niña weather conditions prevailing over New Zealand by Christmas according to NIWA senior climate scientist Dr Brett Mullan.
New findings by scientists at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) have revealed that the death of kina, starfish, and possibly other fishes, in late January and early February off the Kaikoura coast appears to be linked to toxic algae.