Nasa confirms ozone hole shrinking due to CFCs ban

Enlarge  Each year's ozone hole is a little bit

The chlorofluorocarbons, referred by Strahan, are the ozone depleting chemicals that are used in aerosol sprays, blowing agents for foams and packing materials, and refrigerators. CFCs are long-lived chemical compounds that eventually rise into the stratosphere, where they are broken apart by the sun's ultraviolet radiation, releasing chlorine atoms that go on to destroy ozone molecules, as NASA explains.

This gas is crucial to the survival of life on Earth as it soaks up harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which can cause cancer and cataracts, suppress immune systems and damage plant life.

Using a special instrument designed by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, the agency's Aura satellite has measured declines in the concentration of ozone-killing chlorine.

Dr. Susan Strahan, Atmospheric scientist said, "The Montreal Protocol has been a great success at banning the production of ozone-depleting substances".

But the new study is the first to use measurements of the chemical composition inside the ozone hole to confirm that not only is ozone depletion decreasing, but that the decrease is caused by a decline in CFCs. Hydrochloric acid is a chemical that forms once chlorine has destroyed the ozone itself.


For example, researchers measured the levels of chlorine, a primary source of ozone depletion, and found it's falling nearly 1 percent a year.

While the ozone hole is still there, the scientists believe that it will continue to recover slowly as CFCs leave the atmosphere.

Fast forward to 2018, and NASA has now deemed the treaty a success in staving off the demise of the ozone layer. By measuring hydrochloric acid levels each fall, scientists were able to gauge the amounts of chlorine in the ozone hole.

"This is very close to what our model predicts we should see for this amount of chlorine decline", Strahan said. The microwave technology specifically also allowed researchers to study gases during Antarctica's dark winters, as most satellites require sunlight to measure gases. "This gives us confidence that the decrease in ozone depletion through mid-September shown by [Microwave Limb Sounder] data is due to the declining levels of chlorine coming from CFCs". The Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said satellites had observed an 11.5 million-square-mile hole. Measurements in the past have shown that the hole was shrinking, leading to premature celebration that humanity had done something good for once, only to discover the following year that the hole was once again larger. "And even then, there might still be a small hole".

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