Tuesday, 13 November, 2018


Ozone layer hole will 'totally heal within 50 years'

Ozone above Antarctica in 2000 left and 2018 This combination of images made available by NASA shows areas of low ozone above Antarctica on September 2000 left and September 2018
Kristine Garrett | 09 November, 2018, 14:46

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. Ozone is a colourless combination of three oxygen atoms kilometres above Earth's surface, it shields us from ultraviolet rays which cause skin cancer, crop damage and other problems.

The report shows that the Antarctic ozone hole is recovering, while continuing to occur every year. The ozone layer has become thinner since the 1970s.

According to a United Nations report, the upper layer of ozone over the northern hemisphere will be repaired by 2030, and the damage over the southern hemisphere will be back to normal by the middle of the century.

Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center, described the discovery as "really good news".

The report may send a positive signal to the global community which had joined hands in 1987 to end the use of ozone-depleting substances (CFCs, HCFCs and others) in refrigerators, air conditioners, aerosol cans and other related products by switching over to non-ozone depleting substances as refrigerants. Without such measures having been taken, scientists say around two thirds of the world's already depleted ozone layer would have been destroyed by 2065.

He said, "If the elements that make the ozone deplete were still used, then we would have seen frightening effects".

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

"It shows that the ozone layer is under fix, and highlights areas that must be strengthened for it to be an equally successful platform to phase out HFCs to limit global warming", said Shikha Bhasin, programme lead, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

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. "Most potential is in increasing the energy efficiency of these appliances as 80% of the emissions are due to the use of electricity and 20% due to the release of the refrigerants", said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). The ozone hole over the South Pole should disappear in the 2060s.

So a healed ozone layer will worsen man-made climate change there a bit, Newman said.

But an amendment to the Montreal Protocol is set to come into place next year which will ban the chemical.

"I don't think we can do a victory lap until 2060", Newman told AP.

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