11 September, 2014

First signs of ozone layer recovery

The ozone layer is showing the first signs of future recovery thanks to international action against ozone depleting substances, say the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

UNEP and WMO are publishing The Assessment for Decision-Makers, a summary document of the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014. This review by 300 scientists is the first comprehensive update in four years.

British Antarctic Survey welcomes this report. Ozone experts at Halley Research Station have been making daily ozone observations since August 28 this year, which are distributed to WMO and around the world in meteorological code for use in forecasting. Ozone measurements have been made at Halley since 1956.

Jonathan Shanklin, one of the team that reported the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer in 1985, is cautiously optimistic:

“I think WMO is suitably cautious in saying that there are indications of a recovery, which is also what we see in the Halley data. It is still far too soon to say that we have seen the worst ever ozone hole, as the wrong combination of circumstances (meteorological and geological) could conspire to create it, though this becomes increasingly less likely. The ozone hole doesn’t usually peak until late September or early October, so we have some way to go yet.”

Assessment for Decision-Makers – Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2014