After years of climate change activism, it seems we finally have some good news—scientists confirm the earth’s ozone layer is self-healing, with a new study finding its recovery is still in progress.
The ozone layer is an inorganic molecule protective shield that exists in a layer of the earth’s stratosphere.
The layer is responsible for absorbing the sun’s UV rays, which are harmful to humans and the environment.
This recent scientific discovery is good news, because not only does it mean we are protected, but it means we’ve actually managed to reverse some of the damage we’ve caused.
In fact, the ozone had declined to such worrying levels 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).
The substances harmful to the ozone layer were often found in industrial solvents, commercial and home refrigerants, aerosol spray propellants and foam-blowing agents such as fire extinguishers.
Thankfully, a new study, published in the journal Nature, has shown the Montreal Protocol has been successful.
Lead author 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, but 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.”
John Fyfe, a scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada and one of the paper’s co-authors, added:
“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 this trend continues as it is, the ozone layer above the northern hemisphere is projected to fully recover by the mid-2030s, according to a recent report published by The Guardian
While its great news, the ozone layer is repairing itself, we can’t forget the issue of rising levels of greenhouse gases such as CO2.
Though these greenhouse gases don’t have a direct impact on the ozone layer, they’re the leading causes of global warming.
“It’s the tug of war between the opposing effects of ozone recovery and rising greenhouse gases that will determine future trends.”
And one thing that does appear to be reducing greenhouse gases is people across the globe going into isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As fewer people go out, nitrogen dioxide levels, which mostly come from vehicle exhausts and burning fuels, are said to be noticeably reduced in many parts of the world.