More protection: UN says Earth's ozone layer is healing

Rodiano Bonacci
Novembre 8, 2018

United Nations report says Earth's protective ozone layer is...

The ozone layer protects life on earth from harmful levels of ultraviolet rays from the sun.

This is due to internationally agreed actions carried out under the historic Montreal Protocol, which came into being over 30 years ago.

The restrictions are contributing to the slow "healing" of the ozone layer, according to the report by the UN Environment Programme, World Meteorological Organisation, European Commission and other bodies.

"The Antarctic ozone hole is recovering, while continuing to occur every year", the report said.

Paul Newman of Nasa, joint chairman of... "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).

The researchers put the restrengthening of the ozone layer down to the 1987 Montreal Protocol which was an worldwide treaty that banned chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which were found to be weakening the atmospheric layer.

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

Montzka said if the source of the new emissions could be identified and contained, the damage to the ozone should be minor.

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 hole reaches its peak in September and October and disappears by late December until the next Southern Hemisphere spring.

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.

If nothing had been done to stop the thinning, the world would have destroyed two-thirds of its ozone layer by 2065, Newman said.

"We're raising a flag to the global community to say, 'This is what's going on, and it is taking us away from timely recovery of the ozone layer, '" NOAA scientist Stephen Montzka, the study's lead author, said in a statement at the time.

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.

The Kigali amendment to the Montreal protocol, coming into effect at the start of next year, will help reduce future climate change, by targeting HFC gases, mostly used in refrigeration, which have a warming effect tens of thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide.

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

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