Ozone Layer on Road to Recovery

Thursday 11th Sep 2014 by theWeather Club

“There are positive indications that the ozone layer is on track to recovery towards the middle of the century. The Montreal Protocol – one of the world’s most successful environmental treaties – has protected the stratospheric ozone layer and avoided enhanced UV radiation reaching the earth’s surface

- UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

On 10th September 2014 it was announced that the Earth’s protective shield, the ozone layer, is on track to recover over the next few decades. This is due to combined international action against ozone depleting substances. The Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014, produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), includes assessments by 300 scientists and is the first comprehensive update in four years.

The stratospheric ozone layer is a shield of gas that protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Total column ozone declined over most of the globe during the 1980s and early 1990s, remaining relatively unchanged since 2000. The Antarctic ozone hole still occurs each spring and is expected to continue occurring for some time, however this recent assessment indicates it is in recovery and should reach the 1980 benchmark level – the time before significant ozone depletion – before the middle of the century.

The Montreal Protocol, agreed in 1987, and subsequent treaties have seen atmospheric levels of ozone depleting substances - such as CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and halons, once used in products such as refrigerators, spray cans, insulation foam and fire suppression - steadily decreasing. Without these agreements in place, models show that concentrations could have increased tenfold by 2050, leading to 2 million cases of skin cancer annually by 2030, damage to human eyes, immune systems, wildlife and agriculture.

However, this positive news comes in the wake of the bad news that greenhouse gas concentrations reached a record high in 2013 (http://www.rmets.org/record-greenhouse-gas-levels). WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said, “International action on the ozone layer is a major environmental success story…This should encourage us to display the same level of urgency and unity to tackle the even greater challenge of climate change.”

The full report can be found here >> http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=2796&ArticleID=10978&l=en