Earth's ozone layer is healing

Mindy Sparks
November 8, 2018

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

A fragile shield of gas around the planet, the ozone layer protects animal and plant life from the powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun.

A United Nations study presented in Quito indicates that the Earth's ozone layer could be reconstituted by 2060, completely. The protocol mandated that countries phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting chemicals. Northern Hemisphere mid-latitude ozone is predicted to return to 1980 levels in the 2030s, while this won't happen until the 2050s in the Southern Hemisphere and the 2060s at the poles. Recovery of the ozone layer has been up to three per cent per decade since the start of the 21st century.

"It's really good news", report co-chairman Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, told the Associated Press.

It shows that the concentration of ozone-depleting substances continues to decrease, leading to an improvement in the layer since the previous assessment carried out in 2014.

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

The emission of pollution containing chemicals such as chlorine and bromine has caused the ozone layer to deplete.

Ozone depletion reached its peak during the late 1990s, when approximately 10 percent of the ozone layer had disappeared. That's about 16 percent smaller than the biggest hole recorded - 11.4 million square miles (29.6 million square kilometers) in 2006.

The ozone layer starts at about 6 miles (10 kilometers) above Earth and stretches for almost 25 miles (40 kilometers); ozone is a colorless combination of three oxygen atoms. Newman points out that had no action been taken thirty years ago, two-thirds of the ozone layer would be gone by 2065.

"If approved, [the amendment] gives the Protocol a mandate to undertake what is needed most: A complete scientific investigation, bringing all resources of the parties to bear, including new requirements for reporting at the national level and a global review of enforcement measures", Weller said. But according to a study released on May 16, 2018, scientists say since 2013, there's more of a banned CFC going into the atmosphere.

The United Nations' latest summary on the state of the ozone layer is a breath of fresh air for those thinking the environment is beyond fix, showing we're on track for the stratospheric column of ozone to return to 1980's levels by the second half of this century.

Scientists don't know yet how much a healed ozone hole will further warm Antarctica, but what they do know are the immediate effects of ozone depletion on the whole world and human health. That is the Kigali Amendment, a strengthening of green initiative agreements that'll "slash" the use of climate-warming gasses in refrigerators, air conditioners, and other products around the world.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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