Unfortunately, humans understand the negative consequences of their actions on the environment only when the Earth fights back.
Experts warned about the possible scenarios linked to the hole in the ozone for a long time, and people eventually started to act towards the alleviation of the adverse effects.
These days, the news that the Earth’s ozone layer continues to recover is more than welcome, and it has been scientifically confirmed. Namely, an inorganic molecule in the layer of the stratosphere absorbs the harmful UV sunrays and reverses some of the damage.
As the ozone layer kept decreasing, numerous countries came together and supported the 1987 “Montreal Protocol”, applying measures to reduce the use of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs). These substances were often found in industrial solvents, refrigerants, aerosol spray propellants, and foam-blowing agents like fire extinguishers.
In 2000, evidence suggested that their traces in the stratosphere have started to lower, helping the ozone layer repair itself.
Now, a study released this week in the journal Nature has shown that the Protocol is working, so it can pause or reverse environmental harm.
Antara Banerjee, the lead writer of the study, and a CIRES Visiting Fellow from the University of Colorado Boulder, that works in the Chemical Sciences Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), explained:
“This study adds to growing evidence showing the profound effectiveness of the Montreal Protocol. Not only has the treaty spurred healing of the ozone layer, but it’s also driving recent changes in Southern Hemisphere air circulation patterns.
The challenge in this study was proving our hypothesis that ozone recovery is, in fact, driving these atmospheric circulation changes and it isn’t just a coincidence.”
With the help of computer simulations, scientists investigated whether certain patterns of observed wind changes were likely caused by natural variability or a change in human-caused factors such as emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The Ozone Layer protects our planet from the harmful UV rays and thus prevents the radiation from hitting Earth’s surface
One of the paper’s co-authors and a scientist from Environment and Climate Change Canada, John Fyfe, added that “identifying the ozone-driven pause in circulation trends in real-world observations confirms, for the first time, what the scientific ozone community has long predicted from theory.”
The findings of the study showed that only changes in ozone can lead to relevant changes in circulation, even with increased CO2 emissions and the continued expansion of circulation.
Yet, scientists warn that climate change and man-made carbon dioxide emissions might undo the entire progress.
“We term this a “pause” because the poleward circulation trends might resume, stay flat, or reverse.
It’s the tug of war between the opposing effects of ozone recovery and rising greenhouse gases that will determine future trends.”
In case the positive trend continues, the ozone layer above the Northern hemisphere is expected to dramatically improve by the mid-2030s.