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08 November 2018, 06:39 | Edward Lowe
This combination of images made available by NASA shows areas of low ozone above Antarctica on September 2000 left and September 2018
Image copyright Antartica What does the ozone layer do?
The ozone layer had been depleting since the late 1970s.
The results, presented on Monday in a four-year assessment of the health of the ozone layer, represent a rare instance of global environmental damage being repaired, and a victory for concerted global action by governments.
The measures taken to fix the damage will also have an important beneficial effect on climate change, as some of the gases that caused the ozone layer to thin and in places disappear also contribute to warming the atmosphere.
The ozone layer is a layer of the atmosphere which sits about 10 kilometres above the Earth's surface and protects life from ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Recent reports have found that emissions of a banned CFC are increasing in China - something the Chinese government has vowed to crack down on.
The Montreal Protocol was finalized in 1987 in response to the realization that numerous chemicals used in aerosols, air conditioning systems, refrigerators, and industrial solvents were eroding the planet's stratosphere, creating a hole and allowing harmful levels of ultraviolet radiation to seep through the ozone layer.
"It's really good news", said report co-chairman Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The Southern Hemisphere lags a bit and its ozone layer should be healed by mid-century.
This year, the ozone hole over the South Pole peaked at almost 9.6 million square miles (24.8 million square kilometers).
The report also said it was the first time the hole in the ozone layer had shrunk in both size and depth and size since 2000.
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.
However, while most of the banned damaging gases have been phased out, the study found at least one violation - having spotting that production and emission of CFC-11 unexpected increased in eastern Asia since 2012.
An amendment to the Montreal Protocol that goes into effect next year would cut use of some of those gases.
On its own, the ozone hole has slightly shielded Antarctica from the much larger effects of global warming - it has heated up but not as much as it likely would without ozone depletion, said Ross Salawitch, a University of Maryland atmospheric scientist who co-authored the report.
But the United Nations has today said it is finally healing, with the Northern Hemisphere's upper ozone layer expected to be repaired in the 2030s. Newman said we'll need to ensure that the replacements for these gases don't worsen global warming.
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