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Study finds Earth's ozone layer is healing with a huge reduction of damaging chemicals

A hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica is healing and in turn reversing changes it caused to the flow of winds over the southern hemisphere, a study discovers.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder say this is due in part to a ban on ozone depleting substances (ODS) in the 1980s. The biggest impact can be seen in the southern hemisphere jet steam - it had been moving further south due to ozone depletion, but that appears to be reversing.

Antara Banerjee, lead author, says this is likely only a temporary change due to the impact of rising carbon dioxide levels and more ODS coming from China.

Before 2000 the mid-latitude jet stream had been gradually shifting towards the South Pole and another hurricane-causing jet stream was getting wider.

This was changing rainfall patterns and ocean currents in the southern hemisphere and causing countries like Australia to suffer severe drought.

Researchers used a range of computer simulations to show the jet stream stopped moving south at the same time as the ozone hole began healing. There has also been a surge in ozone-depleting chemicals coming from industrial regions of China, the team confirmed.

'We term this a "pause" because the poleward circulation trends might resume, stay flat, or reverse,' says Banerjee.

'It's the tug of war between the opposing effects of ozone recovery and rising greenhouse gases that will determine future trends'

She said the biggest discovery from their study was the proof that a global protocol like the one in Montreal that banned ODS can pause or reverse environmental harm.  


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