More UV protection: United Nations says Earth’s ozone layer is healing

08 Novembre, 2018, 06:34 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • The banning of CFCs has helped to repair the ozone hole above Antarctica

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

A hole was first found in the ozone layer - which shields from the sun's harmful rays - above Antarctica back in the 1980s, as the result of harmful chemicals being released into the atmosphere.

'If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects.

The report said the source country or countries had not yet been identified.

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.

Aerosol spray and coolants made before the ban contained man-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which released chlorine and bromine that ate away at the ozone.

Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center, described the discovery as "really good news".

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.

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This year, the ozone hole over the South Pole peaked at almost 9.6 million square miles (24.8 million square kilometers). Since 2000, it has increased by about 1 to 3 percent per decade, the report said.

But it's not a complete success yet, said University of Colorado's Brian Toon, who wasn't part of the report.

And if recovery rates continue as they are predicted to do, the report says the Northern Hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone should be fully recovered by the 2030s, the Southern Hemisphere ozone in the 2050s, and the polar regions before 2060.

However, while most of the banned gases have been phased out, the report found at least one violation of the protocol: an unexpected increase in production and emissions of CFC-11 from eastern Asia since 2012. And the Montreal Protocol is set to be enhanced in early 2019 with the ratification of the Kigali Amendment, which seeks to curb future climate change by targeting powerful greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning.

Scientists have also noted that the recovery of the ozone layer above Antarctica could slightly worsen the impacts of climate change in that region as the hole in the protective layer there has shielded the area from the full impacts of global warming.

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

Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said: "Over the last three decades, the Montreal protocol has fulfilled its original objective to heal the ozone layer".

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