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Earth's Ozone Layer Continues To Heal

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Earth's Ozone Layer Continues To Heal

Experts have confirmed that the earth's ozone layer is continuing to heal, with a new study finding that its recovery is still in progress.

The protective shield is an inorganic molecule which exists in a layer of the earth's stratosphere, and it's responsible for absorbing the sun's UV rays, which are harmful to humans and the planet.

This is good news, because not only does it mean we are protected, but it means that we've actually managed to reverse some of the damage that we caused.

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In fact, the ozone had declined to such a worrying level that the 'Montreal Protocol' was created - an agreement in 1987 whereby countries around the world put measures in place to stop the use of ozone depleting substances (known as ODSs).

Lead author of the recent 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), said: "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 Ozone Layer protects the earth from harmful UV rays. Credit: PA
The Ozone Layer protects the earth from harmful UV rays. Credit: PA

Banerjee added: "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."

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It showed that although CO2 emissions have risen and continued to expand circulation, including the jet stream, only the changes in ozone can cause certain changes in circulation.

John Fyfe, a scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada and one of the paper's co-authors, said: "Identifying the ozone-driven pause in circulation trends in real-world observations confirms, for the first time, what the scientific ozone community has long predicted from theory."

If the trend continues as it was, the ozone above the northern hemisphere should be fully recovered by the mid 2030s, as reported by The Guardian in 2018.

However, although the positive effects on the ozone layer are great, scientists remain wary that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions and climate change could well undo the work.

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With lower pollution over countries during the coronavirus lockdowns, including China and parts of Europe, it remains to be seen what the effects of the pandemic will show.

Featured Image Credit: NASA

Topics: Science, News

Amelia Ward
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