Depleted ozone layer "healing", report finds

Depleted ozone layer

The healing signs of ozone layer was revealed on Monday by a new assessment report on Montreal Protocol (MP), the over 30-year-old global treaty which deals with reduction of ozone-depleting substances.

Scientists at the United Nations believe the depleted ozone will make a full recovery in the northern hemisphere by 2030, and by 2060 for the southern hemisphere.

According to the report, if the CFC output from eastern Asia continues, the recovery of the ozone layer will be further delayed by up to 20 years.

"At projected rates, 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".

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.

The four-yearly review of the Montreal Protocol, a global agreement which was implemented to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances, found long-term decreases in the atmospheric abundance of controlled ozone-depleting substances and the ongoing recovery of stratospheric ozone.

The purple and blue colors show where there is the least ozone, and the yellows and reds are where there is more ozone.

The Antarctic ozone hole is expected to gradually close, with springtime total column ozone returning to 1980 values in the 2060s.

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"Evidence presented by the authors shows that the ozone layer in parts of the stratosphere has recovered at a rate of 1-3 per cent per decade since 2000", UN Environment and the World Meteorological Organisation said.

Recent reports have found that emissions of a banned CFC are increasing in China - something the Chinese government has vowed to crack down on.

"We are only at a point where recovery may have started", Toon said, pointing to some ozone measurements that haven't increased yet.

Next year, the Protocol is set to be strengthened with the ratification of the Kigali Amendment, which calls for decreasing the future use of powerful climate-warming gases, which also damage the ozone layer. Ozone is a colourless combination of three oxygen atoms kilometres above Earth's surface, it shields us from ultraviolet rays which cause skin cancer, crop damage and other problems.

Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, described the Montreal Protocol as "one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history".

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

"I don't think we can do a victory lap until 2060", Newman told AP.

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