Research Article

Emergence of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer

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Science  15 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6296, pp. 269-274
DOI: 10.1126/science.aae0061

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Turning the corner

The Antarctic ozone hole is finally showing signs of disappearing, nearly 30 years after the Montreal Protocol came into effect. The Montreal Protocol, an international treaty that phased out the production of many of the human-made compounds responsible for stratospheric ozone destruction, is widely considered to be the most important and successful international environmental agreement. For years, it has slowed the rate of stratospheric ozone depletion, and now there are signs that the ozone abundance over Antarctica has begun to increase. Solomon et al. present observational data and model results to illustrate the trends and diagnose their causes.

Science, this issue p. 269

Abstract

Industrial chlorofluorocarbons that cause ozone depletion have been phased out under the Montreal Protocol. A chemically driven increase in polar ozone (or “healing”) is expected in response to this historic agreement. Observations and model calculations together indicate that healing of the Antarctic ozone layer has now begun to occur during the month of September. Fingerprints of September healing since 2000 include (i) increases in ozone column amounts, (ii) changes in the vertical profile of ozone concentration, and (iii) decreases in the areal extent of the ozone hole. Along with chemistry, dynamical and temperature changes have contributed to the healing but could represent feedbacks to chemistry. Volcanic eruptions have episodically interfered with healing, particularly during 2015, when a record October ozone hole occurred after the Calbuco eruption.

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