The ozone layer is healing itself and the massive gaping ozone hole caused by pollution is beginning to shrink, according to a new United Nations (UN) report.
The ozone – which sits high in the Earth’s atmosphere – protects the Earth from dangerous ultraviolet light that causes skin cancer and damages crops among other problems
In the 1970s it was first discovered that aerosol sprays and engine coolants were thinning the ozone because of the damaging chemicals they produced.
Nasa released this image today showing the ozone above Antarctica on September 2000 (left) and September 2018 (Picture: Nasa/AP)But the UN has today said it is finally healing, with the Northern Hemisphere’s upper ozone layer expected to be repaired in the 2030s.
The Southern Hemisphere is expected to have repaired by 2050, while the ozone hole above the Antarctic should disappear in the 2060s, scientists said.
Newlyweds killed in helicopter crash 90 minutes after getting marriedExperts credit a 1987 treaty that banned ozone-depleting chemicals, as well as new technology, for the global environmental success story.
The scientific assessment, released at a conference in Ecuador today, was described as ‘really good news’ by Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
‘If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects. We stopped that.’
The ozone is at its thinnest over the north and south poles (Picture: AP)
The hole over Antarctica is shrinking in size, the UN report has today announced (Picture: Getty)Nasa released CGI images to show how the ozone hole is getting smaller and the atmosphere improving.
The purple and blue colors show where there is the least ozone, and the yellows and reds are where there is more ozone.
Mother ‘battered toddler to death then attempted to revive her with hairdryer’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.
But in 1987, countries around the world agreed in the Montreal Protocol to phase out CFCs and businesses came up with replacements.
At its worst in the late 1990s, about 10% of the upper ozone layer was depleted, Mr Newman said.
Since 2000, it has increased by about 1% to 3% per decade, the UN report said.
Aerosols and coolants used in cars and fridges were modified in the late 1980s to remove chemicals that damaged the ozone layer (Picture: Getty)This year, the ozone hole over the South Pole peaked at nearly 9.6 million square miles – which is still about 16% smaller than the biggest hole recorded.
The hole reaches its peak in September and October and disappears by late December until the next Southern Hemisphere spring, Mr Newman said.
Toddler rescued from ocean after unzipping parents’ tent and wandering into the waterIf nothing had been done to stop the thinning, the world would have destroyed two-thirds of its ozone layer by 2065, he warned.
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.
‘We are only at a point where recovery may have started,’ Mr Toon said.
And the replacements to CFCs that are now being used to cool cars and refrigerators need to be replaced with other chemicals because they worsen global warming, Mr Newman said.
An amendment to the Montreal Protocol that goes into effect next year would cut use of some of those gases.
‘I don’t think we can do a victory lap until 2060,’ he said.
‘That will be for our grandchildren to do.’
What is the ozone layer?
The ozone layer is one layer of the stratosphere – the mass of protective gases around our planet – and the second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The stratosphere increases in warmth with elevation because ozone gases in the upper layers absorb intense ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Ozone is only a trace gas in the atmosphere – about 3 molecules for every 10 million molecules of air.
It absorbs bits of radiation hitting the Earth from the sun like a sponge to prevent it from damaging living things – acting as a shield for life on Earth.
The ozone layer absorbs about 98% of harmful cancer-causing UV light – so it is vitally important.
Source: National Geographic
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