Ozone Layer not Depleting; A Full Recovery Expected

Chelsea Abrams

The ozone layer depletion is actually in recovery. First, everyone must understand what the ozone layer is and its depletion.  According to National   Geographic, “The ozone layer is one layer of the stratosphere, the second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. The stratosphere is the mass of protective gases clinging to our planet ” The ozone is a trace gas in the earth’s atmosphere; like a sponge, it absorbs radiation beaming from the sun.

Some sunlight is healthy for living things on earth, but too much can be damaging.  The ozone traps ultraviolet radiation or UV light.  It is harmful effects cause it to penetrate living organisms protective layers like skin, damaging  DNA particles and cause skin conditions that can be cancerous, and minor symptoms such as sunburn.  

Earths Atmospheric Layer

On the learning platform BYJU’S, The depletion is the gradual thinning of the earth’s ozone layer in the upper atmosphere. The ozone layer depletion comes from the release of chemical compounds containing gaseous bromine or chlorine from industries and other human events. Chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs are one of the major causes of ozone layer depletion, that’s our released solvents, spray aerosols, refrigerators, AC units, etc.  Other causes include uncontrolled rocket launches, nitrogenous compounds, and naturally from sun-spots, stratospheric winds, and volcanic eruptions. 

Questions arise regarding if ozone layer depletion is a relevant issue.

It is still a concern but not as much as it was in 1985 when they discovered the hole in the Antarctic continent.  Since the discovery of the hole,  in 1987, the Montreal Protocol was created and signed by almost every country that banned the production of these man-made chemicals. In a BBC Newsbeat, they discovered that some of this ozone harming chemicals had resumed slowing down the trajectory of the layers recovery, “Atmospheric measurements published in 2018 pointed to illegal CFC production that was occurring in Eastern China.” That production has appeared to stop, putting the healing of the ozone layer back on track.

According to the United States, Environmental Protection Agency says that the ozone layer is slowly recovering and is expected to be fully completed later in the century. The improvement is not something you can see at first glance. The long time scale of this restoration will be at a slow rate due to the ozone-depleting substances (ODS)  in the atmosphere are removed naturally. 

The 2021 Antarctic ozone hole reached its maximum area on Oct. 7 and ranks 13th largest since 1979.
Credits: NASA Ozone Watch

A report from NASA’s Earth Science News team states that the Montreal Protocol played a role in its recovery for banning harmful ozone layer chemicals.  It led the scientists to recognize that the atmospheric chlorine levels (CFCs) were as high as they were in the early 2000s  and that this year’s ozone hole would have been larger by about 1.5 million square miles with the same weather conditions.

Scientists from the World Meteorological organization state that the ozone layer is in the process of restoration. Partly from the Montreal protocol but natural factors as well.  In 2019 some dynamic conditions in the stratosphere caused the smallest Antarctic ozone layer to be detected since the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer. The layer fluctuates in size based on the weather conditions and the time of the year.

Despite the ozone layer not being fully recovered, it is not a complete success story. In the BBC Newsbeat, co-chairman Paul Newman, a chief Earth scientist at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre stated: “It’s really good news…If the ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects. We stopped that.”

A report from researcher Antara Banerjee at the University of Colorado, Boulder claims that the ozone layer is being restored. Data from satellite observations and climate simulations related to atmospheric temperatures, weather, and rainfall levels suggest this recovery. 

In the last decade of research, observations, and testing, the ozone layer is right on track of its revival.

Leave a Reply