UN says Earth's ozone layer is healing

Mindy Sparks
November 8, 2018

The hole in the Earth's ozone layer is expected to fully heal within 50 years, climate change experts predict in a new United Nations report.

The ozone layer's increasing health has been put down to the 1987 Montreal Protocol - an worldwide treaty banning ozone-depleting chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), alongside new technology. Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment Programme, said, "The careful mix of authoritative science and collaborative action that has defined the Protocol for more than 30 years and was set to heal our ozone layer is precisely why the Kigali Amendment holds such promise for climate action in future".

"It's really good news", said report co-chairman Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, the study 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.

Ozone in the upper layers of the atmosphere protects the earth's surface from most of the harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Aerosol spray and coolants made before the ban contained man-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which released chlorine and bromine that ate away at the ozone.

An global agreement called the Montreal Protocol made sure that businesses came up with replacements for these damaging products.

"Evidence presented by the authors shows that the ozone layer in parts of the stratosphere has recovered at a rate of 1-3 per cent per decade since 2000", UN Environment and the World Meteorological Organisation said.

As a result, in 1985 a gaping hole in the ozone over the South Pole was discovered.

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

The ozone layer starts about six miles above Earth. He noted that if nothing had been done, two-thirds of the ozone layer would have been destroyed by 2065.

The report stated: "The Antarctic ozone hole is recovering while continuing to occur every year".

However, while most of the banned damaging gases have been phased out, the study found at least one violation - having spotting that production and emission of CFC-11 unexpected increased in eastern Asia since 2012.

Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said: "Over the last three decades, the Montreal protocol has fulfilled its original objective to heal the ozone layer".

Scientists don't know how much a healed ozone hole will further warm Antarctica, but they do know the immediate effects of ozone depletion on the world and human health, so "it would be incredibly irresponsible not to do this", Salawitch said.

And the replacements now being used to cool cars and refrigerators need to be replaced themselves with chemicals that don't worsen global warming, Newman said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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