Ozone Holes Shrinks to its Lowest Level Since 1988

Ozone Holes Shrinks to its Lowest Level Since 1988

Ozone hole has reduced to its lowest size since year 1988, as per a new review published by NASA. The ozone layer above Antarctica was badly impacted due to environmental changes and the recent shrinkage has been attributed to warmer-than-usual weather conditions. NASA report informed that during the latest review, ozone hole reduced 1.3 million square miles compared to last year.

In mid-1980s, governments across the world started implementing ban on ozone depleting chemicals. The chemicals already in the system were phased out or replaced with time. Chlorofluorocarbons are considered among main culprits causing ozone depletion. Ozone layer is effective in blocking ultraviolet radiation.

In year 2000, ozone hole reached its highest point covering 11.5 million square miles. During the current review, ozone hole covers approximately 7.6 million square miles. Ozone levels started stabilizing by mid-1995 and reduction in ozone hole was first noticed in 2001.

Paul A. Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland informed, “Weather conditions over Antarctica were a bit weaker and led to warmer temperatures, which slowed down ozone loss. It’s like hurricanes. Some years there are fewer hurricanes that come onshore. This is a year in which the weather conditions led to better ozone formation.”

Ozone depletion is mainly caused by man-made halocarbon refrigerants, solvents, propellants, and foam-blowing agents. Ozone depletion and the ozone hole generated worldwide concern over increased cancer risks and other negative effects. The ozone layer prevents most harmful UVB wavelengths of ultraviolet light (UV light) from passing through the Earth's atmosphere.

“It’s extremely rewarding, because it was originally just a scientific effort, and then we were able to convince society that it was a problem - here’s what would happen if we do not deal with it,” said chemist Mario Molina, who had an integral role in the discovery of the ozone hole. Malino received Nobel Prize in 1995 for his contribution to Science.

Detailed results of the study have been published in the journal Nature Communications.