Good news, everyone! We’re not all going to die horribly by being burned up by the sun due to a lack of ozone layer protecting us from its rays!
A new first-of-its-kind study is showing that the hole in the ozone layer above Antartica is actually healing.
According to Fox News, scientists discovered the hole in the mid-1980’s and deduced that mankind had punched the hole into the layer via human-produced chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
But NASA has monitored the hole and noticed changing patterns that suggest the hole is closing by monitoring the amount of chlorine — a CFC bi-product — in the area. Monitoring the chlorine levels shows that ozone depletion has lessened by a whopping 20 percent between 2005 and 2016.
According to Fox News, the method to get the findings isn’t all that complex:
The new study looked at ozone data collected between 2005 and 2016 by the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) instrument aboard the Aura satellite. The instrument cannot directly detect chlorine atoms, but instead detects hydrochloric acid, which forms when chlorine atoms react with methane, and then bond with hydrogen. When Antarctica is bathed in sunlight in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer, CFCs break down and produce chlorine, which then break apart ozone atoms. But during the winter months (early July to mid-September), the chlorine tends to bind with methane “once all the ozone has been destroyed” in its vicinity, according to the statement.
“By around mid-October, all the chlorine compounds are conveniently converted into one gas, so by measuring hydrochloric acid, we have a good measurement of the total chlorine,” lead study author Susan Strahan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in the statement.
It should be noted that the physical size of the hole itself shrinks and expands due to temperatures over the course of the year. It’s the decrease in chlorine that is significant as it eats away at the ozone, and we’re seeing a stark drop over the years:
Because previous studies relied on measurements of the physical size of the ozone hole, the authors of the new study say their research is the first to directly show that ozone depletion is decreasing as a direct result of a decrease in the presence of chlorine from CFCs, according to the statement. The 20-percent reduction in depletion is “very close to what our model predicts we should see for this amount of chlorine decline,” Strahan said.
“This gives us confidence that the decrease in ozone depletion through mid-September shown by MLS data is due to declining levels of chlorine coming from CFCs,” she said. “But we’re not yet seeing a clear decrease in the size of the ozone hole because that’s controlled mainly by temperature after mid-September, which varies a lot from year to year.”
So the efforts to help the ozone layer are actually paying off, and we can all rest a little easier knowing that the doomsday climate cult will have one less thing to panic about.