Ozone layer on recovery track, northern hemisphere likely to heal by 2030s

The ozone layer of the atmosphere will be repaired by 2020

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 restrictions are contributing to the slow "healing" of the ozone layer, according to the report by the UN Environment Programme, World Meteorological Organisation, European Commission and other bodies.

"The Antarctic ozone hole is recovering, while continuing to occur every year".

The ozone layer absorbs about 98% of harmful cancer-causing UV light - so it is vitally important.

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".

It said the Antarctic ozone hole is expected to gradually close, returning to 1980 levels in the 2060s.

The report may send a positive signal to the global community which had joined hands in 1987 to end the use of ozone-depleting substances (CFCs, HCFCs and others) in refrigerators, air conditioners, aerosol cans and other related products by switching over to non-ozone depleting substances as refrigerants.

WMO scientists said that since 2000, the ozone layer is recovering by 1-3% per decade.

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An amendment to the Montreal Protocol that goes into effect next year would cut use of some of those gases.

"The Montreal protocol is one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history for a reason", said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said: "Over the last three decades, the Montreal protocol has fulfilled its original objective to heal the ozone layer".

So a healed ozone layer will worsen man-made climate change there a bit, Newman said.

To date, 59 governments, not including China, India, Russia or the United States, have ratified the Kigali Amendment.

The scientific assessment, released at a conference in Ecuador today, was described as "really good news" by Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center. Without such measures having been taken, scientists say around two thirds of the world's already depleted ozone layer would have been destroyed by 2065.

The assessment is being hailed as a demonstration of what global agreements can achieve, and an inspiration for more ambitious climate action to halt a potential catastrophic rise in world temperatures.

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