Science & Technology
Hole in ozone layer is healing, study shows
By T.K. Randall
January 9, 2018 · 8 comments
The ozone layer appears to be on the mend. Image Credit: NASA / Terry Virts
There has been a distinct reduction in the level of ozone-destroying chemicals in the Earth's atmosphere.
Situated high up in the planet's stratosphere, the ozone layer is a special region which helps to protect the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun.
Scientists first noticed that it appeared to be thinning above Antarctica back in the 1980s, a worrying trend that was linked to the presence of CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) in hair sprays, refrigerators, air conditioning systems and other similar products.
The discovery that these chemicals were responsible for depleting the ozone layer led to a significant reduction in the manufacture and use of CFCs in the hope that this would slow down or even reverse the damage that they had been causing.
As luck would have it, it now appears as though these efforts have genuinely paid off.
In a new study, NASA scientists measuring the level of chlorine (the main CFC byproduct of ozone depletion) in the atmosphere above Antarctica have revealed that there has been a 20% reduction in the level of ozone layer depletion due to chlorine between 2005 and 2016.
The data was recorded by the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) instrument aboard the Aura satellite.
Previous research had focused on measuring the ozone hole itself, making this the first study to identify a reduction in ozone depletion as a direct result of a reduction in CFC chemicals.
While it is likely to take several decades for the damage to repair completely, the news that the ozone layer really is on the mend is certainly encouraging.
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