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NASA confirms the ozone hole over Antarctica is CLOSING

Thirty-some-odd years ago, scientists first became aware of a hole in the ozone layer, which had formed over Antarctica. But thanks to a global ban on hazardous chemicals known as chloro-fluorocarbons, officials at NASA now say that the hole discovered in the 1980s is now closing up. It seems time really can heal all wounds.

When scientists first noticed the hole that had formed in the ozone layer, many believed that chloro-fluorocarbons (CFCs) were the cause. These chemicals were used in a wide variety of applications, including packing materials, air conditioning units and aerosol sprays. When CFCs make their way into the atmosphere, they get broken down by the sun’s ultraviolet rays — and release ozone-destroying chlorine atoms.

The ozone layer is an essential shield from the sun’s radiation. Without it, the planet would not be protected from harmful radiation from the sun. Some of the side effects from unmitigated sun radiation would include damage to wildlife and the environment, along with skin cancer and cataracts.

Under the Montreal Protocol, which was introduced in 1989, these ozone-killing chemicals were put to bed. Around the world, CFCs were phased out. But, was it too late?

In 2005, NASA began permanent surveillance of the hole in the ozone layer,  using its Aura satellite to monitor its status. Ozone depletion occurs in cold weather — so it can differ from year to year and makes it much more challenging to study. Past analyses have suggested that ozone depletion has been dropping, but now NASA has finally been able to confirm that the Earth’s natural “sunscreen” layer is finally healing.

In a recent study using readings of the ozone’s chemical composition gathered from Aura, scientists have found that the hole is actually decreasing in size. The research, led by Dr. Susan Strahan of Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland, also reportedly suggests that a reduction atmospheric CFC levels is responsible for helping the ozone layer heal.

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