Earth´s ozone layer finally healing, says UN

This combination of images made available by NASA shows areas of low ozone above Antarctica on September 2000 left and September 2018. The purple and blue colors are where there is the least ozone and the yellows and reds are where there is more ozone

Without it, skin and eye damage can occur, and evidence suggests a rise in skin cancers associated with the thinning of the ozone layer.

According to the study, ozone in areas of the stratosphere has recovered a a rate of one to three percent over the past 18 years, and if progress continues, the Northern Hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone is projected to heal completely by the 2030s, while the Southern Hemisphere and polar regions are set to recover by the 2050s and 2060s, respectively.

A fragile shield of gas around the planet, the ozone layer protects animal and plant life from the powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun.

The source of the increase in production and emissions has not been identified.

The ozone layer's recuperation has been credited to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which mandated that countries phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting chemicals.

"It's really good news", said report co-chairman Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment Programme, said, "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".

An worldwide agreement called the Montreal Protocol made sure that businesses came up with replacements for these damaging products.

At its worst in the late 1990s, about 10 percent of the upper ozone layer was depleted, said Newman.


The ozone layer starts at about 6 miles (10 kilometers) above Earth and stretches for almost 25 miles (40 kilometers); ozone is a colorless combination of three oxygen atoms.

The UN had already hailed the success of the Protocol but the report said it was the first time that there were emerging indications that the Antarctic ozone hole had diminished in size and depth since 2000.

This year, the ozone hole over the South Pole peaked at almost 9.6 million square miles - which is still about 16% smaller than the biggest hole recorded.

The study, Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018, is the latest in a series of reports, released every four years, which monitor the recovery of ozone in the stratosphere.

On its own, the ozone hole has slightly shielded Antarctica from the much larger effects of global warming - it has heated up but not as much as it likely would without ozone depletion, said Ross Salawitch, a University of Maryland atmospheric scientist who co-authored the report. The Kigali Amendment to the Protocol, made in 2016, deals with phasing down the use of other substances like HFCs which are not ozone-depleting but are quite damaging for the climate due to its high global warming potential.

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

Mr Newman added: "I don't think we can do a victory lap until 2060, ' he said".

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