Earth’s Ozone Layer Appears To Be Healing Itself, Experts Say

Alfie PowellAlfie Powell in News, World
Published 27.03.20

The ozone layer has continued to heal itself in news that’s finding another small upside to the recent pandemic.

As people stay indoors and travel is very limited in day-to-day life, pollution has seen drops previously unheard of.

News that the ozone layer has healing shouldn’t come as a surprise, as previously China, Italy and New York have all seen major drops in air pollution.

In regards to China’s drop a few weeks back, Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, said:

This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event.

Similar drops in Nitrogen Dioxide have been observed in the aforementioned New York and Italy, and now, on a more global scale, it’s the ozone layer.

The ozone layer is, well, a layer of the atmosphere that absorbs most of the UV from the sun so all of the life on Earth doesn’t get radiated to death.

It’s very useful. We need it.

Ozone layer

The Montreal Protocol was started in the late 80s, with countries agreeing to protect the ozone layer and allow it to regrow. Alas, not a huge amount changed until now.

Sadly, this isn’t really by choice, so by all accounts when the lockdown is over, pollution will once more be on the rise.

Lead author of the new study Antara Banerjee, a CIRES Visiting Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder who works in the Chemical Sciences Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), spoke about the good news regarded the ozone, explaining:

This study adds to growing evidence showing the profound effectiveness of the Montreal Protocol. Not only has the treaty spurred healing of the ozone layer, it’s also driving recent changes in Southern Hemisphere air circulation patterns.

ozone layer

The challenge in this study was proving our hypothesis that ozone recovery is in fact driving these atmospheric circulation changes and it isn’t just a coincidence“.

Annoyingly, no matter how much the ozone layer heals itself, the rise in greenhouse gases is still the bigger cause of climate change.

Building on that, Banerjee said:

It’s the tug of war between the opposing effects of ozone recovery and rising greenhouse gases that will determine future trends“.

Basically, we need to all continue doing good and trying to reduce our carbon footprints.

Images via Getty, NASA