According to NASA, the massive hole in the ozone layer has shrunk to its smallest peak since 1988. At its largest in September this year, the hole was about 7.6 million square miles wide - 1.3 million square miles smaller than last year - and still shrinking.
Scientists noted unusually warm weather conditions in the stratosphere as a contributing factor, along with global efforts since the 1980s to cut ozone-depleting chemical emissions.
"Weather conditions over Antarctica were a bit weaker and led to warmer temperatures, which slowed down ozone loss," said Paul A. Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
Previously, scientists had predicted the ozone's return to normal in 2040 - after peaking at a whopping 11.5 million square miles wide in 2000 - but a new study estimates a 30-year delay could be possible.
In June, scientists identified a possible threat to the recovery, believing dichloromethane — an industrial chemical with the power to destroy ozone — doubled in the atmosphere over the past 10 years.