June 3, 2023

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Recovery of the ozone layer is on the way

Good news on the environmental front is rarely highlighted. The ozone layer is expected to fully recover in the next four decades, and the phase-out of the chemicals that destroy it will help curb climate change. Although there are points of caution, it is a big win for the international community. These are the conclusions of a United Nations-sponsored panel of experts presented on Monday, January 9.

Sec Evaluation report Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) constitute the most complete state of scientific knowledge about ozone. It is produced every four years Montreal Protocol Scientific Evaluation Committee, under the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). This 2022 edition was written and peer-reviewed by 230 researchers from 30 countries. “Over the past thirty-five years, ethics has become a veritable spearhead in protecting the environment.”said Meg Sagey, Executive Secretary of UNEP’s Ozone Secretariat.

It all started in the 1970s, when scientists warned of the depletion of the ozone layer, this protective barrier that filters out ultraviolet rays from the sun. In the early 1980s, they discovered a “hole” over the large Antarctic continent that formed between July and September each year and closed in November. This phenomenon is caused by gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons, which contain chlorine and bromine, which are capable of destroying ozone. At that time they were widely used in the production of everyday products such as refrigerators, air conditioners, aerosols or insulation foams.

The hole appears over Antarctica because the region’s extremely low temperatures in winter allow polar stratospheric clouds to form, and certain reactions at its surface promote ozone depletion during the polar spring.

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Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987 and It is now recognized by 198 countries, has banned ozone-depleting substances (ODS) – since 1996 for developed countries and since 2010 for developing countries. Because of their long lifetimes (fifty to a hundred years), however, they do not disappear from the stratosphere, the part of the atmosphere containing the ozone layer at an altitude of 15 km to 50 km. The report confirms that chlorine and bromine concentrations continue their – slow – decline.

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