When the world gets its action together, it can actually solve major issues. Case of the case: The ozone hole, as if everything goes according to plan, can be healed in the 2060s, according to a new UN report.
According to the report, a decade of old international treaty for banning ozone-depleting chemicals has led to their decline and "much more serious ozone loss in the polar regions." There is still work to be done, but it definitely falls to the category Good News.
"We are at the turning point," told Paul Newman, a researcher that helps drive NASA's ozone watch and led to the UN report, telling Earther.
The report is released every four years, and this is its fifth iteration. It traces an environmental problem from the 1980s, we still feel the effects of today. The ozone hole is powered by a number of chemicals commonly found in aerosol cans, air conditioners and refrigerators, called chlorofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons. The chemicals release chlorine in the stratosphere, which in turn can break apart ozone molecules. When that happens, more ultraviolet light from the sun makes it to the surface, increasing the risk of bad things like skin cancer. The problem was particularly noticeable over the Antarctic, where an ozone hole began to form each spring.
Scientists identified the chemicals as problematic, and politicians actually acted on it. The Montreal Protocol was received in 1987. After 30 years, the ozone hole remains an annual occurrence. But the new report finally adds to a 2016 study that shows that the ozone hole has remained since 2000. If everything goes according to plan, the ozone content in the region may return to hollow conditions within 40 years.
In other regions where ozone loss has been less severe, the return to normality may come even earlier. The Arctic and my latitudes in the northern hemisphere could get there until the 2030s, and the middle of the latitudes of the southern hemisphere could reach the 1980 level of ozone in the mid-century.
To reach the timeline for ozone recovery, the world must continue to work to reduce other ozone depleting chemicals and, in other words, do not throw a wrench in the recovery process. On some levels there are some warning signs that researchers are looking at.
The first is a mysterious statement in CFC-11, a chemical prohibited under the Montreal Protocol. Although illegal, research published earlier this year showed that it has risen since 2012. Most signs point to China as illegal for illegal emissions, and it must be stopped to keep recovery on track.
Another factor is what happens to the battle to limit global warming. The ozone hole and climate change are largely separate problems, but they overlap a little. The heating effect in the lower atmosphere associated with increased greenhouse gases also leads to cooling in the stratosphere, which is approximately 6-12 miles above the plane's surface. It can slow down the ozone enhancement process, which may speed up recovery in some places.
At the same time, The report finds that increased warming due to greenhouse gases changes the planet's circulation in the atmosphere in ways that can lead to less ozone in the tropics and more in the Arctic and my latitudes. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – including those produced by ozone depleting chemicals "compensation", it's probably you know a good idea.
The last question is perhaps the most worrying because we know so little about it. The report raises concerns about what would happen if the world or even a terrible state decided to cool the planet by sending small particles into the stratosphere. The process, called geoengineering, is machined with potential impacts on the ground and probably also in the stratosphere.
"The problem with that is our level of knowledge about natural levels of particle in the stratosphere is not so high," said Newman. "Geoengineering presents quite the challenge by interfering with natural levels of particles in the stratosphere in addition to the influence on ozone."
So, let's not, and instead, try to repair the ozone hole and solve global warming here on the ground.