Thursday, 22 November, 2018

Earth's ozone layer finally healing from aerosol spray damage, UN says

The ozone layer of the atmosphere will be repaired by 2020 Image The ozone layer of the atmosphere will be repaired by 2030
Sandy Nunez | 06 November, 2018, 08:51

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.

It is the layer that shields the Earth from cancer-causing solar rays and the report says it is recovering at a rate of one to three percent a decade.

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.

As a result, the upper ozone layer above the Northern Hemisphere should be completely repaired in the 2030s and the gaping Antarctic ozone hole should disappear in the 2060s, according to a scientific assessment released Monday at a conference in Quito, Ecuador.

But the United Nations has today said it is finally healing, with the Northern Hemisphere's upper ozone layer expected to be repaired in the 2030s.

"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".

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

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

The report also said it was the first time the hole in the ozone layer had shrunk in both size and depth and size since 2000.

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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 is a layer of the atmosphere which sits about 10 kilometres above the Earth's surface and protects life from ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.

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.

The cause is not certain but the researchers believe it is possible climate change is altering the pattern of atmospheric circulation - causing more ozone to be carried away from the tropics.

"The Montreal Protocol is one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history for a reason", Erik Solheim, the head of UN Environment", said in the press release.

The Protocol is set to be strengthened in 2019 with the ratification of the Kigali Amendment which calls for the future use of powerful climate-warming gases in refrigerators, air conditioners and related products to be slashed.

'I don't think we can do a victory lap until 2060, ' he said.