According to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), scientists generated the first proof that the ozone hole can ‘heal’ with human activity.
Every September, the Antarctic ozone hole forms after rays from the Sun organize ozone destruction cycles.
These cycles include chlorine and bromine, whose larger part comes from chlorine-containing human-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), banned in 1996.
Previous research on the subject had the focus only on the hole’s size; however, for this study, the GSFC team managed to measure the chemical structure of the ozone hole.
With the help of the Microwave Limb Sounder within the Aura satellite, the scientists measured the hydrochloric acid.
Namely, this substance, is made after the chlorine destroys almost all the available ozone and reacts with methane.
They came to the conclusion that chlorine levels decline around 0.8 percent each year and noted a 20% decrease in ozone reduction in the Antarctic winter than there was in 2005.
“We see very clearly that chlorine from CFCs is going down in the ozone hole, and that less ozone depletion is occurring because of it,” said Susan Strahan, the study’s lead author.
The study is available in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Strahan is confident that the decrease in ozone depletion is due to declining levels of chlorine coming from CFSs.
This means that the battle to recover the damage we’ve done to our planet is not over.
“CFCs have lifetimes from 50 to 100 years, so they linger in the atmosphere for a very long time,” said Anne Douglass, a GSFC atmospheric scientist and the study’s co-author.
“As far as the ozone hole being gone, we’re looking at 2060 or 2080. And even then there might still be a small hole.”
Experts say any increase in atmospheric ozone levels brings major benefits. Ozone prevents ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which can cause health problems varying from eye problems to potentially fatal skin cancers.
These discoveries regarding the ozone hole are a reminder that significant action can have a significant influence.
Climate change can seem like a big issue. However, if we can reduce ozone depletion through the measure of reducing CFCs, there is nothing we can’t achieve.