Ozone Layer Could Be Completely Healed By The 2060s

The ozone layer of the atmosphere will be repaired by 2020

Unseen, a layer of ozone encircles Earth's stratosphere protecting us from most of the harmful effects of ultraviolet light from the sun.

The Protocol was in response to the revelation that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting substances - used in aerosols, cooling and refrigeration systems, and many other items - were tearing a hole in the ozone layer and allowing unsafe ultraviolet radiation to flood through.

At the recovery rates projected by the United Nations report, the 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. "It shows that the ozone layer is under fix, and highlights areas that must be strengthened for it to be an equally successful platform to phase out HFCs to limit global warming", said Shikha Bhasin, programme lead, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

The report said the source country or countries had not yet been identified.

The University of Colorado's Brian Toon, who wasn't part of the report, said the success doesn't mean the fight to save the ozone layer is over just yet.

The researchers put the restrengthening of the ozone layer down to the 1987 Montreal Protocol which was an worldwide treaty that banned chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which were found to be weakening the atmospheric layer. He noted that if nothing had been done, two-thirds of the ozone layer would have been destroyed by 2065.

The four-yearly review of the Montreal Protocol, a 1987 ban on man-made gases that damage the fragile high-altitude ozone layer, found long-term decreases in the atmospheric abundance of controlled ozone-depleting substances and the ongoing recovery of stratospheric ozone.

Now scientists say the ozone layer is making a comeback and will make a full recovery in 42 years.

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"It's really good news", Newman said of the protective layer's recovery.

However, while most of the banned gases have been phased out, the report found at least one violation of the protocol: an unexpected increase in production and emissions of CFC-11 from eastern Asia since 2012.

An amendment to the Montreal Protocol that goes into effect next year would cut use of some of those gases.

"The Antarctic ozone hole is recovering", the report said, "while continuing to occur every year".

And the replacements to CFCs that are now being used to cool cars and refrigerators need to be replaced with other chemicals because they worsen global warming, Mr Newman said.

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

Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment Programme said: "The Montreal Protocol is one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history for a reason".

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