And Now for Some Good News: Ozone Layer Regaining its Health

ozone layer

Though rare, we do get the occasional story offering up something other than differing shades of doom and gloom on climate science. Case in point: according to a new study, the levels of hydrogen chloride (HCl) in the atmosphere - one of the chemicals identified as being most harmful to the Earth's ozone layer (alongside chlorofluorocarbons) - have been steadily declining over the past few years after reaching a peak in the early 1990s. HCl is typically spewed from volcanoes or emitted when chemicals used to make various materials - including rubber and plastics - are broken down.

Lloyd Wallace and William Livingston, two Arizona-based astronomers, tracked HCl concentrations over the last 35 years and found that levels of the noxious chemical fell by an average of about 1.8% per year since 1993 - a great improvement over the average annual increase of 5.7% registered from 1971 to 1993. This is great news, says Christopher Cantrell, an atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO: "... there is indeed good evidence that the chlorine loading in the atmosphere is going down as a result of the Montreal Protocol,"It's too bad their analysis doesn't tell the whole picture, however. According to Cantrell, their observations glossed over the levels of bromine, a much rarer element in the atmosphere that is "much more effective at destroying ozone." Still, he remains optimistic about the ozone layer's future well-being though he cautions that it won't be a speedy recovery: "I think most everyone agrees that we should see [full ozone layer] recovery eventually."

Via ::ScienceNOW: More Good News for the Ozone Layer (news website)

See also: ::Ozone Hinders Plants' Ability to Absorb Carbon Dioxide, ::The Pitfalls of Prosperity: There Goes the Ozone Layer, ::Asthma Sufferers Will Soon Help the Ozone
Image courtesy of NASA

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