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Scientists have confirmed the earth’s ozone layer is continuing to repair itself – another welcome slice of positive news.
The Montreal Protocol was agreed back in 1987 with the intention of protecting the ozone layer and helping it repair itself, and a study released this week has confirmed the protocol is working.
For those of you unsure what the ozone layer actually is, it’s the area of Earth’s stratosphere that absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, therefore preventing the radiation from hitting Earth’s surface.
The treaty was designed to help protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances responsible for ozone depletion.
The substances harmful to the ozone layer were often found in commercial and home refrigerants, industrial solvents, aerosol spray propellants and foam-blowing agents such as fire extinguishers.
In 2000, there was evidence that traces of these chemicals in the stratosphere has started to decline, helping the ozone layer repair itself.
Lead author of the new study Antara Banerjee, a CIRES Visiting Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder who works in the Chemical Sciences Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), spoke about the evidence they found.
This study adds to growing evidence showing the profound effectiveness of the Montreal Protocol. Not only has the treaty spurred healing of the ozone layer, it’s also driving recent changes in Southern Hemisphere air circulation patterns.
The challenge in this study was proving our hypothesis that ozone recovery is in fact driving these atmospheric circulation changes and it isn’t just a coincidence.
While it’s great news the ozone is repairing itself, we can’t forget the issue of rising levels of greenhouse gases such as CO2 causing global warming. These gases do not have a direct effect on the ozone layer, but are the main cause behind global warming.
Banerjee added: ‘It’s the tug of war between the opposing effects of ozone recovery and rising greenhouse gases that will determine future trends.’
Basically – just because the ozone is repairing itself doesn’t mean we should stop trying to reduce our carbon footprint.
One thing that does appear to be reducing our carbon footprint is people across the globe going into isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thanks to less people going out, levels of nitrogen dioxide, which mostly comes from vehicle exhausts, and levels of particulate matter coming from road transport and burning fuel, are said to be noticeably reduced all across London. There has also been a noticeable reduction in Milan, Rome, and Paris.
Let’s keep doing our best to make positive changes.
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