The Ozone Layer is Repairing Itself

By: Tyler Stafford, Isabella Randazzo, and Julia Ruggieri
NOV. 3, 2017

The dark blue color represents the hole in the ozone layer, circa 1988. 
Photo: NASA

Over thirty years ago, scientists discovered a hole in the ozone layer. At its widest point, it measured roughly 11 million square miles. Recently, it seems to be repairing itself.  According to Live Science, scientists are seeing “the first fingerprints of healing.” Recent measurements are showing that the hole in the ozone layer shrank by more than 1.5 million square miles in the past 17 years, reducing its size to approximately nine million square miles.

The hole in the ozone layer was discovered in 1985 over Antarctica. The ozone layer acts as a strong filter for the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV). Its recent deterioration makes humans even more susceptible to skin cancer as a result of increased UV radiation exposure. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the hole expanded throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s, however, it now appears that full recovery of the ozone layer might occur as early as 2049. The Montreal Protocol, a ban that was created to protect the ozone layer from specific ozone-depleting substances (ODSs), is an example of how nations are working together to protect the ozone layer.

An atmospheric sampling balloon being deployed in the South Pole.
Photo: NOAA

The U.S. Department of State reported that “the United States ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1988, and has joined its four subsequent amendments.” There are 197 countries in agreement with the Montreal Protocol. All the countries that are involved in the protocol are phasing out hydrofluorocarbons and methyl bromide because these substances have a destructive impact on the ozone layer, as results have shown.

The Montreal Protocol was established solely to protect the ozone layer. Many countries have also been taking other actions to prevent the destruction of the ozone layer, and, so far, the results are promising. It’s reassuring to know that scientists are optimistic about the ozone layer being fully repaired in the near future.