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Ozone Layer Improving Faster Than Expected 325

Posted by Zonk
from the go-ozone-go-ozone dept.
SpaceAdmiral writes "Since the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, which limited ozone-destroying gasses like CFCs, the Earth's ozone layer has been recovering. However, new studies show that the ozone in the lower stratosphere is actually recovering faster than the Montreal Protocol alone can explain." From the article: "It's a complicated question. CFCs are not the only things that can influence the ozone layer; sunspots, volcanoes and weather also play a role. Ultraviolet rays from sunspots boost the ozone layer, while sulfurous gases emitted by some volcanoes can weaken it. Cold air in the stratosphere can either weaken or boost the ozone layer, depending on altitude and latitude. These processes and others are laid out in a review just published in the May 4th issue of Nature: 'The search for signs of recovery of the ozone layer' by Elizabeth Westhead and Signe Andersen."
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Ozone Layer Improving Faster Than Expected

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  • It's not like CFCs are fine now according to the article,

    In the upper stratosphere (above roughly 18 km), ozone recovery can be explained almost entirely by CFC reductions. "Up there, the Montreal Protocol seems to be working," says co-author Mike Newchurch of the Global Hydrology and Climate Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

    And later in the same article:

    Sorting out cause and effect is difficult, but a group of NASA and university researchers may have made some headway. Their new study, entitled "Attribution of recovery in lower-stratospheric ozone," was just accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research. It concludes that about half of the recent trend is due to CFC reductions.

    Secondly, the Montreal Protocol was about the ozone depletion in other areas like Northern Europe and Canada, not just the hole over Antactica.

    If one wants to argue that ozone depletion was nothing to worry about or some kind of myth, one needs to refer to sources beyond this article since that's not what it says.

  • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @05:38AM (#15415121) Homepage
    The people in the southern reaches of the southern hemisphere do not think it is a hoax: the incidence of skin cancer mushroomed [blackwell-synergy.com] in southern Chile as the hole in the ozone increased. Not the end of the world, but a real and ongoing health hazard.
  • by BoneFlower (107640) <george@worroll.gmail@com> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @05:38AM (#15415122) Journal
    There is proof that certain human activities are capable of damaging the ozone layers. Enough experiments were done that the possibility certainly exists.

    The ozone layer was depleted more severely than known natural processes could account for. This is also pretty much fact.

    Beyond that, it's basically an educated guess as to which of the following is more likely-

    Are there ozone depleting natural reactions we are completely unaware are even possible?

    Are the known natural processes happening with greater frequency than we currently are aware of?

    Are human activities the primary cause?

    Is the truth a mix of all three, and if so, what proportion is each effect?

    And most importantly, regardless of the cause, is the question "What should we do about it?". Obviously we dont' want the ozone layer to go away completely. But whatever measures are taken to protect it must be moderated by an attempt to keep from throwing the rest of the ecosystem out of balance. It would do little good to restore the ozone layer only to throw the world into nuclear winter(extreme example, but it illustrates the point). It would be very bad to restore the ozone layer if an ozone depletion/restoration cycle was part of the Earth's natural housekeeping.

    I haven't researched enough to really give many answers, just pointing out that there are important questions that almost never seem to get addressed in public releases. I'm sure a lot of this has been covered in the studies and experiments that led up to the ozone hole controversy, but very little of it seems to get into the public eye.
  • You were wrong. (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @05:41AM (#15415128) Homepage
    If the hole has been recovering since then why are scientists blaming mankind for the current increase in temperatures.

    Because the ozone hole and global warming are two totally separate phenomena. They are both caused by pollution, but different kinds of pollution-- in simple terms, the ozone hole is caused by CFCs, global warming is caused by greenhouse gases. In the 80s, we stopped using CFCs, and since CFCs take a few decades to fall out of the atmosphere, now that a few decades have passed the ozone hole is starting to get better. In the 80s we did not stop our emission of greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide), so global climate change / global warming is still getting worse.

    Of course, carbon dioxide takes longer to fall out of the atmosphere than CFCs, so even if we entirely ceased carbon dioxide emissions tomorrow (which we probably couldn't even if we really wanted to without bringing civilization to its knees) we shouldn't expect to see things returning to normal for maybe a couple hundreds of years. But at least we could stop making things worse.

    Repairing the ozone hole is not helping global warming for the same reason that if your computer's power supply is on fire, you cannot fix this by reinstalling Windows. If you thought that repairing the ozone hole would stop global warming, it is because you are confused.
  • Global warming (Score:3, Informative)

    by Godji (957148) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:46AM (#15415222) Homepage
    The best lecture on global warming I've ever read is this:

    http://www.crichton-official.com/speeches/speeches _quote04.html [crichton-official.com]
  • by cluckshot (658931) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:34AM (#15415597)

    The parent post to this one is somewhat on target. There are numerous reasons for the ozone hole.

    The most specific reason for the ozone hole was cold. It takes a temperature of -205 Deg C to create the atmosphere conditions where ozone does not form in presence of sunlight. As a result the "Hole" was a cold spot. The conditions being suppressed in the cold spot, they reverted back with a vengance when the air hit warmer locations. Typically the southern habitable regions saw their Ozone levels rise by nearly double as the "Hole" formed. ( See the Total Ozone Measurment System TOMS site [nasa.gov]) To add to the nutty stuff over ozone holes, this never formed when any appreciable sunlight could fall in the affected area anyway and the hole always closed by the time appreciable sunlight appeared in the area.

    The correspondence to the ozone hole and Mt Erebus [und.edu] volcanic activity was always 1:1. The existence of chlorine in the upper atmosphere was in that area about 99.9% natural in origin. The mountain pumped massive amounts of material into the atmosphere swamping anything man did.

    The price paid for this nutty behavior by some "scientists" was very high. In the world as a whole it represented the replacement of very long lived very safe and very efficient CFC based refrigeration systems with ones which use toxic gasses and which are much shorter lived and less in energy efficiency. The resulting energy demand is in no small part the cause of the current pinch in energy supplies the world is experiencing at this time and was completely unnecessary. The whole process was generated by Dupont and the fact that their CFC patents were running out.

    Basic Physics of the CFC's indicated why they were used and why they never caused this problem. The first most important reason for their selection was that they were inert and did not mix with air for any extended period. They separate from air like oil and water. CFC's by this means were safe to work with, and did not ruin machinery. They were heavier than air so they fell to the ground and penetrated into the ground rapidly. CFC-12 has the same mass ratio to air as a cannonball of solid steel has to a lake it is being shot into. Since lakes are unlikely to have cannon balls floating around on the top of them, it is just as likely for CFC's to migrate to the upper atmosphere and subsequently float around up there.

    Just for the Moderators: This isn't troll. It's fact. If you don't like it post what you don't like or go get a life. You still will not change the facts.

    I am aware that some people have attached themselves to this like "Ozone Hole" stuff like it was a religion. I am sorry if your feelings get hurt by the facts. We have damaged our world greatly as we bought off on this nutty theory of "Ozone and CFC's." The damage is quite severe. Our atmosphere is highly polluted by wasted energy generation that this caused. People see economic troubles and the earth is damaged by the energy shortage that results. I appreciate the desire to help and make things better. This time you had good intentions but bad delivery. Try improving your aim! Shoot at real targets and bring real solutions please. We need them.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:06AM (#15415896) Homepage Journal
    Here's something that might surprise you. _Everything_ is toxic. The question is how hard it is to hit the LD50. Even plain old water can kill you if you drink too much.
  • wrong issue (Score:3, Informative)

    by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:28PM (#15416188)
    Ozone hole comes from CFCs.

    Greenhouse effect comes from CO2 and H2O emissions.

    The ozone hole thing was kind of crappy science anyway, when the sensors were created to look at the ozone layer, the hole was already there. There's no evidence it wasn't supposed to be there. And my understanding is it shrunk in Winter 2004-2005 versus Winter 2003-2004.

    Plus, the angle the light hits the atmosphere there at the pole is so low that the UV is filtered out anyway, without the need for a thick UV layer (think of how at sunset when you view the sun at a low angle through more atmosphere the blue/violet is filtered out and so the sky turns orange).

    The greenhouse effect is something different. The total scope of it is perhaps a bit up in the air too, but knocks against the ozone situation do not undermine the greenhouse effect.
  • by deglr6328 (150198) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @05:01PM (#15417381)
    Can someone tell me why the above idiotic pablum is rated at a 4? Saying that CFCs "separate from air like oil and water" because they differ in molecular weight is so unbelieveably incorrect as to be lughable. and blaming the current "energy pinch" on the abandonment of CFCs in favor of HCFCs? hilarious. the above post is little more than contrarian cospiracy weaving cluelessness. hint: posts SOUNDING informative are NOT always such!
  • Re:Billy's Tarantula (Score:3, Informative)

    by Abcd1234 (188840) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @10:55PM (#15418696) Homepage
    This is the view from the selfish human perspective. Earth creatures slower or dumber than humans are free to do with what the humans please. Who cares what remains of them after a generation or two.

    Hint: this has been the case since we started killing other animals for food and started growing our own crops. GM foods change this not one bit.

    Neon fish loose in the wild?

    Which will die off rapidly because they aren't fit to survive in the wild, being more noticable to predators.

    Crafted strains of corn contaminating traditionally (painstakingly) *bred* varieties?

    ROFL. "traditionally bred varieties". Do you have any idea the contradiction you've introduced? "Bred" varieties *are* genetically modified, in that we used selective breeding to choose the genes we wanted expressed. The only difference, now, is that we have the technology to specifically manipulate DNA, rather than relying on the crude method of selective breeding.

    Reproduction is a crucial part of the genetic information exchange equation.

    And we've been messing with it for centuries, your example of the mule being an excellent case in point (thanks for making it for me, BTW).

    And then you bring up non-sequitors about nazis and birth defects. Good to see you're up to arguing rationally, as opposed to responding with weak emotional pleas.

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