The big hole in the Earth’s ozone layer is shrinking and will eventually disappear at the end of this century, a new study conducted by NASA says. The study added that the current 12 million square miles size of the ozone hole will significantly be reduced to less than 8 million square miles in the next 30 year period.
At one time, it was one of the biggest environmental issues with environmentalists and scientists alike. The hole was first exposed to a group of British scientists 30 years ago, while on an Antarctica mission. It was proposed at that time, that the ozone hole, formed over the south pole due to the prevalent use of harmful chemicals, will cause an increased level of cancer-causing UV radiation rays on Earth.
In 1987, all of the major economic powers worldwide established the Montreal Protocol that aims for reduction of the use of harmful chemicals, that includes chlorofluorocarbons, which has caused the damage to the ozone layer. From 1987 onwards, most ozone-destroying chemicals were replaced by alternative ozone-friendly ones.
Ozone is formed in the stratosphere, when high-energy UV rays strike molecules of oxygen (O2) and divide them into 2 single oxygen atoms (O). An O2 molecule and a free oxygen atom form a molecule of ozone (O3).
Ozone is vital for the sustainability of human life as it absorbs dangerous ultraviolet solar radiations. An ozone (03) molecule after absorption of low-energy UV radiation, splits into O2 molecule and a free oxygen atom. The oxygen atom reacts again with an O2 molecule to form yet another ozone molecule. This continuous cycle of ‘ozone-oxygen’ spells that ultraviolet radiations are repeatedly transformed into heat in the atmosphere.
The Montreal Protocol impact with regards to the size of the ozone hole was not very clear until now. Goddard Space Flight Centre of NASA used data transmitted by its AURA satellite, with this data, getting specific details regarding long-term developments in ozone depletion became a possibility.
Goddard Space Flight Centre reported that the ozone holes are shrinking, and for the next 25-30 years, they will become a non-major environmentalist’s concern. The current appraisals reveal that the size of the ozone hole has become smaller than what it used to be in the 1960s.