Saturday, February 9, 2013

The hole in the ozone layer is shrinking

Satellite imagery confirmed the ozone hole over Antarctica in 2012 was the smallest seen in the past decade, scientists with the European Space Agency reported.

The ozone sensor on Europe's MetOp weather satellite surveyed the hole over Antarctica in 2012, adding to the long-term monitoring of atmospheric ozone started by its predecessors on the ERS-2 and Envisat satellites, a release form ESA's Paris headquarters said Friday.

The ozone hole caused by human-made chlorofluorocarbons -- CFCs -- has been shrinking since international agreements banned the substances in the 1980s in an effort to protect this vital layer of the atmosphere that protects life on Earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation.

Under the ESA's Climate Change Initiative, ozone climate data from a number of sources are used to document the variability of ozone changes better at different scales in space and time.

This allows for better estimates of the timing of the ozone layer recovery and in particular the closure of the ozone hole, scientists said.

Climate models suggest the ozone layer is in an ongoing recovery and the hole over Antarctica could close in the next decades, they said.


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