Earth's protective ozone layer is finally healing

The banning of CFCs has helped to repair the ozone hole above Antarctica

The ozone layer is healing itself and the massive gaping ozone hole caused by pollution is beginning to shrink, according to a new United Nations (UN) report.

The Montreal Protocol was finalized in 1987 in response to the realization that numerous chemicals used in aerosols, air conditioning systems, refrigerators, and industrial solvents were eroding the planet's stratosphere, creating a hole and allowing harmful levels of ultraviolet radiation to seep through the ozone layer.

Scientists discovered the the ozone layer, particularly over the Antarctic region and as far up as Australia, had depleted in the 1970s.

The ozone layer's increasing health has been put down to the 1987 Montreal Protocol - an worldwide treaty banning ozone-depleting chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), alongside new technology. The worldwide agreement compelled the global community to begin the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halons. The 2018 edition shows that ozone levels in sections of the stratosphere have been recovering at rates of 1-3 percent since 2000. The purple and blue colors are where there is the least ozone, and the yellows and reds are where there is more ozone.

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

The hole reaches its peak in September and October and disappears by late December until the next Southern Hemisphere spring, Mr Newman said. He noted that if nothing had been done, two-thirds of the ozone layer would have been destroyed by 2065.

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The report also said it was the first time the hole in the ozone layer had shrunk in both size and depth and size since 2000.

"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.

But the report, from the UN's environment and world meteorological organisation, said there is evidence of an unexpected increase in CFC-11 from eastern Asia since 2012.

And the replacements to CFCs that are now being used to cool cars and refrigerators need to be replaced with other chemicals because they worsen global warming, Mr Newman 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 amendment to the Montreal Protocol that goes into effect next year would cut use of some of those gases.

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

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