Researchers At MIT Confirm That Banning Of CFCs Has Caused Ozone Layer Hole To Shrink
Earth's protective layer is on the mend after banning of harmful chemicals.
If you've been paying attention to the news in the last few weeks, you might have got the sense that the apocalypse is very much upon us. With all of the economic and political turmoil in the world right now, it would be no surprise if your anxiety levels had gone through the roof. But out of the doom and gloom, we're happy to report that a more positive news story has come to light. The hole in the ozone layer is rapidly shrinking.
The ozone layer plays an extremely important role in protecting Earth from the sun's UV radiation. By the mid-1980s, scientists had made the connection between chemical compounds contained with aerosols and refrigerators called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and an annual depletion of the ozone occurring above Antarctica. This prompted huge concern within the international community, and led to CFCs being banned by virtually every single country in the world.
Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT, and her team's research has shown that the ozone layer is well on its way to healing. And that, my friend, is good news for us humans. From its peak size in 2000, the hole in the ozone has shrunk by a remarkable 4 million square kilometres according to data taken in 2015.
Historically, measurements of the ozone hole are taken on an annual basis in October. This is the time of year when the hole is traditionally at its largest. Solomon and her colleagues however made the decision to measure the state of the situation earlier in the year, when temperatures were colder and the ozone hole was still in the process of opening up.
"I think people, myself included, had been too focused on October, because that's when the ozone hole is enormous, in its full glory," Solomon says,"but October is also subject to the slings and arrows of other things that vary, like slight changes in meteorology."
In the month of September, between 2000 and 2015, researchers tracked the opening of the Antarctic ozone hole through the use of satellites and weather balloons. Things like sulfur dioxide emitted by volcanoes, which also have a detrimental effect on the ozone, and weather factors like wind and temperature were also taken into account.
Solomon has stated that if chlorine levels in the atmosphere continue to decrease along their current projections then, barring significant volcanic eruptions, the ozone hole should have shrunk up and closed by the middle of this century.
Of course, there's still a long way to go in improving our planet's health in general but it would seem that efforts to curb air pollution and take better care of the environment are starting to pay off. We're not exactly living in a utopia right now but a spoonful of positive news like this doesn't half improve our mental wellbeing.