If current policies are maintained, the ozone layer should recover to 1980 values (before the hole appeared) by around 2066 over Antarctica
The ozone layer, which protects Earth from dangerous solar radiation, is ‘on track’ to be fully restored within the next 40 years, but geoengineering projects aimed at curbing global warming could threaten that progress, scientists say.
“The phase-out of nearly 99% of banned ozone-depleting substances has allowed the ozone layer to be preserved and contributed, remarkably way, in its restoration in the upper stratosphere and limiting people’s exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation,” the experts note in the report they draw up every four years, under the auspices of the UN.
The ozone hole was created due to man-made pollution, especially from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that used to be emitted by many refrigerators. In recent decades, thanks to global cooperation, the ozone layer has been given a chance to regenerate.
The Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987 and ratified by 195 countries, has significantly reduced the amount of CFCs in the atmosphere, and the ozone layer looks set to be fully restored, according to UN estimates.
“If current policies are maintained, the ozone layer should recover to the values it had in 1980 (before the hole appeared) around 2066 over Antarctica, in 2045 over the Arctic and in 2040 over the rest of the world,” the UN Environment Agency said.
In 2016 the Kigali agreement also provided for phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), gases extremely harmful to the climate, used in refrigerators and air conditioners. If the deal is kept, it could limit global warming by 0.5°C by 2100, experts estimate. But at the same time, they examined for the first time the possible effects on the ozone that geoengineering projects aimed at limiting climate change would have and highlighted their unwanted side effects. One idea is to deliberately add aerosols to the stratosphere to reflect some of the solar radiation. One of these plans involves injecting billions of sulfur particles into the upper atmosphere. Such an injection could seriously damage the ozone layer, warned John Pyle, the co-chairman of the panel of scientists working on behalf of the UN. “There are many misgivings,” he stressed.
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