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Study Confirms Hole in Ozone Layer is Shrinking Due to Global Treaty

Science By
This image, using data from NOAA and NASA satellites, shows the ozone layer from two perspectives. In the global map, blue colors indicate normal levels of ozone and red colors indicate the area associated with the ozone hole. The vertical profile in green colors shows how the actual thickness of the ozone layer changes. Very low levels and thicknesses of ozone were measured on Oct. 2, 2015. This depletion was consistent with balloon sonde measurements from the same time. (NOAA)
This image, using data from NOAA and NASA satellites, shows the ozone layer from two perspectives. In the global map, blue colors indicate normal levels of ozone and red colors indicate the area associated with the ozone hole. The vertical profile in green colors shows how the actual thickness of the ozone layer changes. Very low levels and thicknesses of ozone were measured on Oct. 2, 2015. (NOAA)

 

30 years after it was discovered, the ozone layer’s greatest wound is beginning to heal. A recent study by MIT researchers confirmed that the hole in the Earth’s protective layer over Antarctica shrank by 4 million square kilometers. The stratospheric ozone layer protects Earth’s organisms from harmful waves of radiation emanating from space, such as ultraviolet or gamma waves.

Scientists attribute the turn-around to the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty that eliminated ozone-depleting chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). A major success for global collaboration of this scale is unprecedented.

This false-color image shows ozone concentrations above Antarctica on Oct. 2, 2015. (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)
This false-color image shows ozone concentrations above Antarctica on Oct. 2, 2015. (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

 

Since 2000, evidence of the Montreal Protocol’s effect could be seen in the slowed rate of ozone depletion. Now, for the first time since the 1980’s, stratospheric ozone over the South Pole has begun to increase.

Researchers acknowledge that temperature changes could contribute to the phenomenon. At the same time, they admit those changes could also be symptoms of the reduction in CFCs. To learn more about the study and its ramifications, watch the video from PBS Newshour below.