Ever since Captain Planet travelled to the Antarctic in the early 90’s, the ozone hole over the southern polar ice cap has been growing. And while I imagine Captain Planet is now buried six feet under, I like to think he’s smiling down on us in a creepy but loving, green guy sorta way.
According to a study published in Science the magazine, lead author Susan Salomon has concluded that the ozone is in repair mode and should be back to its healthy self by 2060. Salomon attributed the healing ozone to the Montreal Protocol, which banned the use of chlorofluorocarbons (also known as CFC’s) in 1987.
In an interview with Gizmodo, Salomon told one reporter, “This is a reminder that when the world gets together, we really can solve environmental problems.”
The infamous ozone hole over Antartica typically shows up in the late August and lasts through October. However, Salomon and her team of researches are saying that the onset of the hole is starting 10 days later than it has in the past and the hole itself has shrunk by nearly 1.7 million square miles.
Industrial chlorofluorocarbons that cause ozone depletion have been phased out under the Montreal Protocol. A chemically-driven increase in polar ozone (or “healing”) is expected in response to this historic agreement. Observations and model calculations taken together indicate that the onset of healing of Antarctic ozone loss has now emerged in September. Fingerprints of September healing since 2000 are identified through (i) increases in ozone column amounts, (ii) changes in the vertical profile of ozone concentration, and (iii) decreases in the areal extent of the ozone hole. Along with chemistry, dynamical and temperature changes contribute to the healing, but could represent feedbacks to chemistry. Volcanic eruptions episodically interfere with healing, particularly during 2015 (when a record October ozone hole occurred following the Calbuco eruption).
We’ve come a long way
Find the entire study here: Emergence of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer
Find the Gizmodo article here: The Ozone Hole Is Finally Healing