Ozone Hole Has Shrunk By More Than 700,000 Square Miles As A Result Of The Ban On Destructive Chemicals
Compared to this time last year, the ozone hole over the South Pole has decreased by 700,000 square miles, or about the size of Texas, giving scientists hope that the disappearance of ozone-depleting compounds is reducing the hole’s size.
The statement was made on Wednesday by NASA, which noted that the hole’s average size between September 7 and October 13 was 8.9 million square miles, a slight decrease from the 8.99 million square miles it had the previous year.
The ozone hole area, as calculated by satellite data, peaked on October 5 at 10.2 million square miles, but has since returned to the constant depletion seen over the previous few years.
The Montreal Protocol, a pact passed 35 years ago to prohibit the discharge of dangerous ozone-depleting chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which were used in aerosols, is most likely to blame for the gap closing.
Between September 7 and October 13, the hole averaged 8.9 million square miles, which is 700,000 square miles less than at the same time the previous year.
In a statement, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s head scientist for Earth sciences, Paul Newman, said: “Over time, steady progress is being made, and the hole is growing smaller.”
We observe some swaying as the numbers fluctuate significantly from day to day and week to week due to variations in the weather and other variables.
But generally speaking, we observe a decline during the previous two decades. The hole is getting smaller because of the Montreal Protocol’s ban on ozone-depleting compounds.
When there is a breach in the ozone layer, the ultraviolet rays from the sun that shield Earth from them can reach our planet. The hole for this year is a little less than the 8.99 million square miles it was for 2021.
However, because chlorine and bromine from man-made substances adhere to high-altitude polar clouds each southern winter, the layer thins and creates a hole above the South Pole every September. Then, as the sun rises at the end of Antarctica’s winter, the reactive chlorine and bromine start ozone-depleting processes.
Through the use of instrumentation on board the Aura, Suomi NPP, and NOAA-20 satellites, scientists from NASA and NOAA are able to monitor the ozone hole’s expansion and disintegration. Scientists were worried about the stratospheric effects of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption in January 2022.
Significant volumes of sulfur dioxide were produced during the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991, accelerating the thinning of the ozone layer. The Antarctic stratospheric data, however, have not revealed any direct effects from Hunga Tonga.
A 1987 international agreement known as the Montreal Protocol forbids the manufacturing and consumption of ozone-depleting chemicals in order to safeguard the stratospheric ozone layer.
The Montreal Protocol, a pact enacted 35 years ago to prohibit the discharge of hazardous ozone-depleting chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which were used in aerosols, is most likely to blame for the gap shrinking.
The ozone layer developed a massive hole in the early 1980s, which was addressed by the pact. A 2021 study claimed that without the Montreal Protocol, we would already be living in a world with a “scorched Earth.”
The study concluded that banning the chemicals, which include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were formerly widely used in refrigerators and spray cans, preserved the climate in two ways.
It reduced their greenhouse effect and insulated plants from harmful increases in ultraviolet radiation by preserving the ozone layer (UV). Without the deal, the ozone layer would have collapsed globally by the 2040s and there would have been 60% less ozone over the tropics by 2100.
By 2050, the UV radiation from the Sun would be greater in mid-latitudes, which include most of Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Central Asia, as well as New Zealand. The globe and its vegetation would have been subjected to much more UV radiation as a result of the ozone layer’s depletion.
CHLORO-FLUOROCARBONS (CFCS): WHAT ARE THEY?
Chemicals with carbon, chlorine, and fluorine atoms are known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and they are neither poisonous nor combustible. They are employed as solvents, refrigerants, blowing agents for foams and packaging materials, and in the production of aerosol sprays.
CFCs are under the category of halocarbons, a group of substances that include both halogen and carbon atoms. Each CFC molecule is identified by a specific numbering scheme.
For instance, the CFC number 11 denotes the proportion of carbon, hydrogen, fluorine, and chlorine atoms in the system.
Although CFCs are inert in the lower atmosphere and safe to use in the majority of applications, they do undergo significant reactions in the upper atmosphere or stratosphere where they cause harm.