More protection: UN says Earths ozone layer is healing

Ozone above Antarctica in 2000 left and 2018

These risky substances were tearing a hole in the ozone layer, and if not improved, could lead to dangers ultraviolet radiation exposure to animals, humans, and plants.

The four-yearly review of the Montreal Protocol, a global agreement which was implemented to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances, found long-term decreases in the atmospheric abundance of controlled ozone-depleting substances and the ongoing recovery of stratospheric ozone.

The Southern Hemisphere is expected to have repaired by 2050, while the ozone hole above the Antarctic should disappear in the 2060s, scientists said.

'If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects.

The hole has exposed us to strong ultra-violet light, which has in turn been linked to an increase in diagnoses for skin cancer, prompting severe bans on the manufacture of products featuring the damaging chemicals.

But in 1987, countries around the world agreed in the Montreal Protocol to phase out CFCs and businesses came up with replacements.

"It's really good news", said report co-chairman Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

"The careful mix of authoritative science and collaborative action that has defined the Protocol for more than 30 years and was set to heal our ozone layer is precisely why the Kigali Amendment holds such promise for climate action in future". Use of man-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which release chlorine and bromine, began eating away at the ozone.

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At its worst in the late 1990s, about 10 percent of the upper ozone layer was depleted, said Newman.

As a result, in 1985 a gaping hole in the ozone over the South Pole was discovered.

The ozone layer starts at about 6 miles (10 kilometers) above Earth and stretches for almost 25 miles (40 kilometers); ozone is a colorless combination of three oxygen atoms.

Since 2000, it has increased by about 1% to 3% per decade, the United Nations report said.

The University of Colorado's Brian Toon, who wasn't part of the report, said the success doesn't mean the fight to save the ozone layer is over just yet.

Scientists have also noted that the recovery of the ozone layer above Antarctica could slightly worsen the impacts of climate change in that region as the hole in the protective layer there has shielded the area from the full impacts of global warming.

'I don't think we can do a victory lap until 2060, ' he said.

"It shows that the ozone layer is under fix, and highlights areas that must be strengthened for it to be an equally successful platform to phase out HFCs to limit global warming", said Shikha Bhasin, programme lead, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

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