The ozone hole over the Antarctic is the smallest in the last 5 years! At 25 million square kilometers, though it is still very large, the fact that it is shrinking is reason to feel positive.
Dr Paul Fraser from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s (CSIRO) Marine and Atmospheric Research Division explains how this has happened. He says that when the stratosphere is warm, the ozone depleting process is less efficient, and this year has been relatively warm.
Moreover, he says that the drive to curb the use of ozone depleting chemicals, chloro-fluoro-carbons, has helped the situation.
Unfortunately, however, ozone recovery is a very slow and long process. The ozone depleting chemicals have a very long life, about 100 years, and though a conscious effort to stop the use of these chemicals will have a positive impact in the future, the ozone layer will today, continue to bear the brunt of past actions.
What further slows down the ozone recovery process is global warming. Global warming, the warming of the earth’s surface due to increased concentration of greenhouse gases, goes hand in hand with stratospheric cooling. The cooler the stratosphere, the more efficient the ozone depleting process will be.
This close connection between environmental processes demands that environmental protection be all-encompassing, and not selective.