Finally, something good about global warming: it has reduced ozone depletion in the atmosphere.
The destruction of the ozone layer over the Northern Hemisphere has been less in recent years. This has been due to warmer temperatures, rather than a drop in ozone-depleting chemicals, UN experts say.
The depletion recorded since December was about “five percent less than the average pre-1980 levels,” according to the World Meteorological Organization. The largest ozone depletions were recorded in the mid-1990s.
Ozone is part of the earth’s protective layer that shields the planet and humans from harmful ultraviolet radiation which can cause skin cancer and destroy tiny plants at the beginning of the food chain.
While ozone-depleting chemicals have been banned in many countries, it takes decades for the results to reach the area where ozone is formed. According to the WMO, “The reduced loss is not related to the expected long-term recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer in the coming decades.”
According to Michael Proffitt, senior scientific officer of the WMO, “The Antarctic ozone hole last year was the largest and deepest we’ve seen. Now in the Arctic, we’re seeing kind of the opposite. There is not much depletion.The temperatures were just not cold enough to produce a lot ofozone gas.”
Proffitt adds, “But that doesn’t mean the problem is going away. We know that there is still high chlorine content in the stratosphere. We have placed a lot of chlorine and bromine compounds in the atmosphere. It is well known that once these compounds get into the stratosphere it is difficult toget them out, they stay there and catalytically destroy ozone under certain conditions.It is going to be decades, perhaps 50 years, maybe more, before the stratosphere will cleanse itself of this chlorine.”
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