Ozone layer is RECOVERING in rare good news for the planet

Rodiano Bonacci
Marzo 28, 2020

Before the turn of the century, ozone depletion had been driving the southern jet stream further south than usual. As well as being used industrially for refrigeration and the manufacture of packaging materials, they were also in household aerosols like hairspray and in air conditioning units.

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). This led to changes in precipitation patterns and ocean currents, but that changed about 10 years after the Montreal Protocol was signed. Was it a coincidence?

With the help of computer simulations, they first concluded that the noticed break in circulation trends could not just be attributed to natural shifts in winds. Instead, only changes in the ozone could explain why the creep of the jet stream had suddenly stopped. In other words, it is clear that the jet flow of the Montreal Protocol has paused or even slightly reversed the southern migration.

In Australia, for instance, changes to the jet stream have increased the risk of drought by pushing rain away from coastal areas.

The Montreal Protocol has proven to be a crucial step in helping to pause or even compensate for the damage caused by humanity globally, but despite this, the steady increase in greenhouse gas emissions shows that we need to do much more than that.

"The "weather bands" that bring our cold fronts have been narrowing towards the south pole, and that's why southern Australia has experienced decreasing rainfall over the last thirty years or so", organic chemist Ian Rae, who was not part of the study, said in a statement.

As the whole world grapples with the novel coronavirus, here's some cheerful news that shows there's always a silver lining - the vital ozone layer of the earth has finally begun healing.

Still, we may not be celebrating for long.

The ozone hole, discovered in 1985, has been forming every spring in the atmosphere high over Antarctica.

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, the team warn the recovery of the ozone layer might be temporary, with a sharp uptake in ODSs in China in recent years such as evidence of an increase in CFC-11 - an ozone-depleting chemical - from eastern Asia since 2012.

"We term this a "pause" because the poleward circulation trends might resume, stay flat, or reverse," says atmospheric chemist Antara Banerjee from the University of Colorado Boulder.

"It's the tug of war between the opposing effects of ozone recovery and rising greenhouse gases that will determine future trends".

She said this shows that climate change actions do work and "we can reverse the damage that we've already done to our planet".

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