Global efforts to protect the ozone could be working, report says


A 31-year global agreement to decrease levels of ozone-depleting chemicals could be finally paying off, according to a new report.

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that a hole that forms in the ozone over Antarctica each September was not as large as it would have been 20 years ago.

The ozone is a layer above the Earth’s surfaces that “acts like sunscreen” to protect the plant from ultraviolet radiation that could lead to skin cancer and cataracts, damage plants, and suppress immune systems, according to NOAA.

The hole was still “slightly above average size” this year, the report said. But it could have been worse given that colder-than-average temperatures created the ideal conditions to destroy the ozone in the Antarctic stratosphere, NOAA reported.

NOAA and NASA scientists credit the Montreal Protocol for preventing the hole from growing. The agreement was signed by every country in the world in 1987 with the goal of reducing and phasing out the production and consumption of chemical substances that deplete the ozone.

“Chlorine levels in the Antarctic stratosphere have fallen about 11 percent from the peak year in 2000,” said Paul A. Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in a statement. “This year’s colder temperatures would have given us a much larger ozone hole if chlorine was still at levels we saw back in the year 2000.”



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