Science Writer Warns Ozone Hole Recovery Claims Likely Premature, Too Optimistic

Posted: January 26, 2023 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Emissions, opinion, ozone, Temperature, Uncertainty
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Is there a role for natural climate variation here, and if so, what is going on?
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Claims by a UN-backed expert panel that the ozone layer is healing and headed to full recovery may be premature and overly optimistic, Net Zero Watch’s Science Editor Dr. David Whitehouse has warned.

Any internet search will find hundreds of news stories announcing that the ozone hole over the Antarctic is slowly filling and that by about the middle of this century mankind’s vandalism of this natural atmospheric layer will have been remedied, says Benny Peiser via Climate Change Dispatch.

The ozone hole has become an icon of anthropogenic interference in the natural world — and a hopeful signpost that there is a way back. But is the ozone hole healing? Not by as much as many headlines suggest, it would appear.

The ozone layer — the portion of the stratosphere that protects our planet from the Sun’s ultraviolet rays — thins to form an “ozone hole” above the South Pole every September.

Chlorine and bromine in the atmosphere, derived from human-produced compounds, attach to crystals in high-altitude polar clouds and initiate ozone-destroying reactions as the Sun reappears at the end of Antarctica’s winter.

Unusual Behavior For Three Consecutive Years

The Antarctic ozone hole usually starts opening during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring (in late September) and begins developing during October, usually ending during November.

But this has not been the case in the past few years. Data from the last three years show a different behavior: during this time, the ozone hole has remained larger than usual throughout November and has only come to an end well into December.

The 2022 Antarctic ozone hole was again relatively large and its closure took longer than usual, like in 2020 and 2021.

This is a different behavior from what had been seen in the previous 40 years. No one is quite sure what is happening.

Speculating on the cause of this new behavior, Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service Director Vincent-Henri Peuch said:

“There are several factors influencing the extent and duration of the ozone hole each year, particularly the strength of the Polar vortex and the temperatures in the stratosphere. The last three years have been marked by strong vortices and low temperatures, which have led to consecutive large and long-lasting ozone hole episodes. There is a possible connection with climate change, which tends to cool the stratosphere. It is quite unexpected though to see three unusual ozone holes in a row. It is certainly something to look into further.”

Despite these recent large ozone holes, many scientists point to the consistent signs of improvement in the ozone layer.

They have linked this to the success of the Montreal Protocol which, since the 1990s has led to slow but steadily declining emissions of ozone-distorting chemicals.

“Over time, steady progress is being made, and the hole is getting smaller,” said Paul Newman, chief scientist for Earth sciences at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“We see some wavering as weather changes and other factors make the numbers wiggle slightly from day to day and week to week. But overall, we see it decreasing through the past two decades.”

Is The Ozone Hole Recovering?

Continued here.

  1. JB says:

    “A recent UN report (January 2023) showed that 99% of ozone-destroying chemicals have been phased out, so why hasn’t the ozone recovery been stronger?”

    Because it isn’t chemicals that have first order effect. Try looking at the sun’s behavior and its effect upon the south pole.

    Nary a word about Mt Erebus.

  2. Phoenix44 says:

    Humans are so self-centered. It’s always our fault. Quite often it’s nothing to do with us.

  3. oldbrew says:

    CFCs were in use in the 1930s so why did ozone *suddenly* become a problem nearly 50 years later? (No data for 1995).

  4. catweazle666 says:

    “CFCs were in use in the 1930s so why did ozone *suddenly* become a problem nearly 50 years later?”

    One theory was that the patents had run out.

  5. oldbrew says:

    The ban or phase-out pre-dated the patents running out apparently. According to one theory, labelled as conspiracy on some media, Dupont had a patented CFC replacement ready shortly afterwards 😏

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