Savants have confirmed that the earth’s ozone layer is healing; bringing some good news on Globe with a new study suggesting that it has recovered so much.
The protective shield which exists in the earth’s stratosphere is an inorganic molecule, and it absorbs the sun’s UV rays, which are harmful to humans and the planet. It’s good to hear that we are protected, and that we’ve actually managed to reverse some of the damage that we caused.
Nevertheless the Montreal Protocol-the 1987 agreement to stop releasing Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) could be responsible for pausing, or even reversing, some troubling changes in the air.
Antara Banerjee, lead author of the recent study, a CIRES Visiting Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder who works in the Chemical Sciences Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said: “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, it’s also driving recent changes in Southern Hemisphere air circulation patterns.”
Banerjee added: “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.”
Swirling towards our planet’s poles at a high altitude are fast air currents known as jet streams. Before the turn of the century, ozone depletion had been driving the southern jet stream further south than usual. This ended up changing rainfall patterns, and potentially ocean currents as well. In spite of that it showed that although CO2 emissions have risen and continued to expand circulation, including the jet stream, only the changes in ozone can cause certain changes in circulation.
John Fyfe, a scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada and one of the paper’s co-authors, said: “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.”
If the trend continues as it was, the ozone above the northern hemisphere should be fully recovered by the mid-2030s, as reported by The Guardian in 2018.
In other words, the impact of the Montreal Protocol appears to have paused, or even slightly reversed, the southern migration of the jet stream. And for once, that’s actually good news.
However, although the positive effects on the ozone layer are great, scientists remain wary that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions and climate change could well undo the work.
With lower pollution over countries during the coronavirus lockdowns, including China and a huge partition of Europe, it remains to be seen what the effects of the pandemic will show.
The ozone layer above us has recovered so much; it’s actually stopped many worrying changes in the atmosphere. If you’re looking for someone to thank, try the world at large.