Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Ozone layer on recovery track, northern hemisphere likely to heal by 2030s

Ozone layer on recovery track, northern hemisphere likely to heal by 2030s

The stratospheric ozone layer protects life on earth from harmful UV radiation. It is noted that the depletion of the ozone layer, which was first spotted in the 1970-ies by the year 2000 stopped, one reason for which was the compliance with the Montreal Protocol that bans the production of ozone-depleting compounds.

The hole has exposed us to strong ultra-violet light, which has in turn been linked to an increase in diagnoses for skin cancer, prompting severe bans on the manufacture of products featuring the damaging chemicals.

The University of Colorado's Brian Toon, who wasn't part of the report, said the success doesn't mean the fight to save the ozone layer is over just yet.

The Montreal Protocol helped phase out ozone depleting chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons - known as CFCs - which were used widely in the production of fridges and spray cans until it transpired that they contributed to the breakdown of the ozone layer.

This year, the ozone hole over the South Pole peaked at almost 9.6 million square miles (24.8 million square kilometers). The worldwide agreement compelled the global community to begin the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halons.

If nothing had been done to stop the thinning, the world would have destroyed two-thirds of its ozone layer by 2065, Newman said.

"We are only at a point where recovery may have started", Toon said, pointing to some ozone measurements that haven't increased yet.

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An amendment to the Montreal Protocol that goes into effect next year would cut use of some of those gases.

Mr Newman added: "I don't think we can do a victory lap until 2060, ' he said".

'That will be for our grandchildren to do'. These risky substances were tearing a hole in the ozone layer, and if not improved, could lead to dangers ultraviolet radiation exposure to animals, humans, and plants.

It is possible the healing of the ozone hole above Antarctica may insulate the continent and accelerate climate warming, but report co-author Ross Salawitch, an atmospheric scientist at the University of MI, said the immediate effects of ozone damage were such that it would be "incredibly irresponsible" not to protect the depleted ozone layer.

Ozone is only a trace gas in the atmosphere - about 3 molecules for every 10 million molecules of air.

The measures taken to fix the damage will also have an important beneficial effect on climate change, as some of the gases that caused the ozone layer to thin and in places disappear also contribute to warming the atmosphere.

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