The Hole in the Ozone is Shrinking
According to a study published in the Journal Science, the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica shows signs that it’s beginning to heal. An international agreement put in place almost 30 years ago called for the phasing out of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and other substances that harm the ozone layer. These compounds were primarily used in refrigerators, dry cleaning chemicals, and as a propellant in aerosol cans.
Researchers involved with the study, which was released on June 30th, concluded that
“the ozone layer is expected to recover in response (to these actions and policies), albeit very slowly.”
The hole in the ozone layer was first discovered in 1985 and prompted these agreements, called the Montreal Protocol, two years later.
What is the Ozone Layer?
The ozone layer is a fragile shield of gas that protects life on earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation.
When it is weakened, it allows more UV rays to enter the atmosphere. This can make humans more prone to conditions like skin cancer and cataracts. Plant life is also affected, with consequences including a lower crop yield and disruptions to the ocean’s food chain.
Natural events, such as volcanic eruptions, can also release compounds into the atmosphere that can destroy ozone. This makes it more difficult to track the progress of the ozone layer’s healing. Also, events such as volcanic eruptions can have their own effect on the planet’s weather systems.
What Does This Mean?
A healing ozone layer could mean more changes, or stability, to recently erratic weather patterns. With a decrease in UV rays entering the atmosphere, temperatures may stabilize and could allow plant and animal life to recover from climate changes. Unfortunately, researchers don’t expect the hole to seal completely until around 2050. Until that time comes, it’s a good idea to take your own measures to protect the future of your family.
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