Earth's ozone layer finally healing, says UN

Ozone above Antarctica in 2000 left and 2018

This combination of images made available by NASA shows areas of low ozone above Antarctica on September 2000, left, and September 2018 GENEVA: The ozone layer that shields life from cancer-causing solar rays is recovering at a rate of one to three percent per decade, reversing years of risky depletion caused by the release of harmful chemicals, a United Nations study said on Monday.

The ozone layer had been depleting since the late 1970s.

Ozone is a layer that protects life on Earth from harmful layers of ultraviolet rays from the sun.

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

Referring to projected rates, the report says the northern hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone is "scheduled to heal completely by the 2030s followed by the southern hemisphere in the 2050s and polar regions by 2060".

The researchers put the restrengthening of the ozone layer down to the 1987 Montreal Protocol which was an global treaty that banned chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which were found to be weakening the atmospheric layer. The worldwide agreement compelled the global community to begin the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halons.

Nasa released CGI images to show how the ozone hole is getting smaller and the atmosphere improving. The purple and blue colors are where there is the least ozone, and the yellows and reds are where there is more ozone.

The source of the increase in production and emissions has not been identified.

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The amount of ozone in the stratosphere varies naturally throughout the year, with zone depletion most pronounced in polar regions, resulting in so-called ozone holes.

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.

If nothing had been done to stop the thinning, the world would have destroyed two-thirds of its ozone layer by 2065, Newman said.

'We are only at a point where recovery may have started, ' Mr Toon said.

The report, released by the UN Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in Ecuador's capital Quito, presents scientific evidence, showing continuous decrease in concentration of ozone-depleting substances at a certain rate since 2000.

The Protocol is set to be strengthened in 2019 with the ratification of the Kigali Amendment which calls for the future use of powerful climate-warming gases in refrigerators, air conditioners and related products to be slashed. "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".

'I don't think we can do a victory lap until 2060, ' he said.

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