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Ozone layer has the ability to repair itself and has been doing so since 2000, new study finds

The ozone layer is healing and has been doing so since 2000, according to a new study.

View of the Earth from space Source: istock.com

The ozone acts as the Earth's only defence to the damaging radiation produced by the sun with the study, which was published in Nature, pointing to the introduction of the Montreal Protocol as the catalyst to the organic repair of the ozone layer.

The signing of the treaty back in 1987 phased out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion including CFCs from spray cans and refrigerants.

It heralded the first time nations around the world were willing to make a collaborative effort to reduce the human-made effects on climate change.

Lead author of the study and CIRES visiting Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder, Antara Banerjee, told the Independent there were signs of change in the southern hemisphere. 

“We found signs of climate changes in the southern hemisphere, specifically in the air circulation patterns," she said. 

“The challenge was showing that these changing air circulation patterns were due to the shrinking ozone hole following the implementation of the Montreal Protocol."

“The jet stream in the southern hemisphere was gradually shifting towards the south pole in the last decades of the 20th century due to ozone depletion. 

“Our study found that movement has stopped since 2000 and might even be reversing. The pause in movement began around the same time that the ozone hole started to recover. 

Banerjee also said that carbon dioxide also has an effect on the jet stream.

“It’s not just ozone that affects the jet stream – CO2 also has an effect. What we are seeing is that there is a ‘tug-of-war’ between ozone recovery, which pulls the jet stream one way (to the North), and rising CO2, which pulls the other way (to the South)."

“We are seeing the pause in the shifting jet stream because these two forces are currently in balance. That might change in the future when ozone has fully recovered and CO2 carries on pushing it south.”

Ms Banerjee, who also works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), went on to emphasise that human action to reverse environmental damage does in fact work and there is hope for the ozone layer if nations continue to abide by the Montreal Protocol.

“The second most important point of the study, which I would say is a very good finding, is further evidence that the ozone hole is shrinking and that is thanks to the Montreal Protocol," she said.

“It shows that this international treaty has worked and we can reverse the damage that we’ve already done to our planet. That’s a lesson to us all that can hopefully be applied to our greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change.

“If we keep adhering to this protocol then the ozone hole is projected to recover – at different times, in different parts of the atmosphere. In some regions, we think it might happen in the next couple of decades and in others much later in the century.”