Friday, 25 May, 2018

Ozone layer is thinning over densely populated areas, scientists say

Ozone at lower latitudes is not recovering despite Antarctic ozone hole healing Credit NASA
Glenn Montgomery | 07 February, 2018, 02:02

However, total ozone levels in the atmosphere remained the same and now scientists at the federal institute of technology ETH Zurich showed that this is because ozone in the lower stratosphere declined steadily over the past three decades. This is partly due to the fact that ozone is also formed in the troposphere - at altitudes below about 15 km - by human activities.

Since the chemicals were banned, the ozone layer was thought to have been recovering completely. But warming trends could be strengthening these currents, moving more ozone to the poles and leaving less at lower latitudes.

The ozone layer around the planet is thinning over the most populated areas, showing no improvement in the critical protective layer since the 1990s, The Wall Street Journal reported, according to a new study.

The cause of the decline is unknown but might be the result of global warming.

The ozone layer forms in a section of the atmosphere which is called the stratosphere. It is produced in tropical latitudes and distributed throughout the rest of the world.

Thirty years after nations banded together to phase out chemicals that destroy stratospheric ozone, the gaping hole in Earth's ultraviolet (UV) radiation shield above Antarctica is shrinking. They found that from 1998 to 2016, ozone in the lower stratosphere ebbed by 2.2 Dobson units-a measure of ozone thickness-even as concentrations in the upper stratosphere rose by about 0.8 Dobson units.

Researchers conducted an analysis on 11 different locations and gathered information which helped them create a subtle model of the ozone throughout the last 30 years. In the 20th century, when excessive quantities of ozone-depleting chlorinated and brominated hydrocarbons such as CFCs were released into the atmosphere, the ozone layer in the stratosphere - i.e.at altitudes of 15 to 50 Kilometres -thinned out globally. "The decreases in ozone are less than we saw at the poles before the Montreal Protocol was enacted, but UV radiation is more intense in these regions and more people live there", informed Haigh. Climate change has been affecting the atmospheric circulation pattern which carried out ozone from the tropic.

The study is an example of the concerted worldwide effort to monitor and understand what is happening with the ozone layer.

The other is that very short-lived substances (VSLSs), which contain chlorine and bromine, could be destroying ozone in the lower stratosphere. VSLSs include chemicals used as solvents, paint strippers, and as degreasing agents.

An global research team says the ozone, which protects humans and other species from harmful ultraviolet radiation, is continuing to recover at the poles.

'Very short-lived substances could be the missing factor in these models'.

To conduct the analysis, the team developed new algorithms to combine the efforts of multiple worldwide teams that have worked to connect data from different satellite missions since 1985 and create a robust, long time series.

An atmospheric chemist at the British Antarctic Survey, Anna Jones who is not a part of the study informed that before taking further steps to prevent decrease the layer it is important that to find out the reasons that are causing the observed downward trend. "My field is normally cosmology, but the technique we developed can be used in any science looking at complex datasets".

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