More protection: United Nations says Earth's ozone layer is healing

08 November, 2018, 14:12 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Montreal Protocol has prevented severe ozone depletion

This combination of images made available by NASA shows areas of low ozone above Antarctica on September 2000, left, and September 2018 GENEVA: The ozone layer that shields life from cancer-causing solar rays is recovering at a rate of one to three percent per decade, reversing years of unsafe depletion caused by the release of harmful chemicals, a United Nations study said on Monday.

Scientists have also noted that the recovery of the ozone layer above Antarctica could slightly worsen the impacts of climate change in that region as the hole in the protective layer there has shielded the area from the full impacts of global warming.

The reports, which are released every four years, note the improvement of Earth's protective ozone layer, which was in grave danger about 30 years ago.

"If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects".

The ozone layer's recuperation has been credited to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which mandated that countries phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting chemicals.

"It's really good news", said report co-chairman Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The worldwide agreement compelled the global community to begin the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halons.

At its worst in the late 1990s, about 10% of the upper ozone layer was depleted, Mr Newman said.

The source of the increase in production and emissions has not been identified.

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The purple and blue colors show where there is the least ozone, and the yellows and reds are where there is more ozone.

"The Antarctic ozone hole was expected to gradually close, returning to 1980 levels in the 2060s, the report said".

The hole reaches its peak in September and October and disappears by late December until the next Southern Hemisphere spring, Newman said.

But it's not a complete success yet, said University of Colorado's Brian Toon, who wasn't part of the report.

"We're raising a flag to the global community to say, 'This is what's going on, and it is taking us away from timely recovery of the ozone layer, '" NOAA scientist Stephen Montzka, the study's lead author, said in a statement at the time.

However, the report did note there is evidence of an increase in CFC-11 - an ozone depleting chemical - from eastern Asia since 2012.

The Kigali amendment to the Montreal protocol, coming into effect at the start of next year, will help reduce future climate change, by targeting HFC gases, mostly used in refrigeration, which have a warming effect tens of thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide.

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

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