In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was signed by 199 countries to protect the ozone layer. A big hole in the Arctic was caused due to increased global warming. The rise in chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) led to this depletion in the ozone layer. The Ozone layer protects us from the harmful rays of the sun, which can cause skin cancer.
The good news is a recent study by the University of Colorado Boulder has discovered that the hole in the Arctic has been the smallest since the 1980s. Netizens claim that this is because of the COVID-19 lockdown, which has led to a drop in high temperatures.
However, the claim is not valid. Scientists have found that this change is due to the unusually strong and long-lasting polar vortex, the high-altitude currents that carry cold air to the polar regions. This is not linked to the difference in air quality.
The unprecedented 2020 northern hemisphere #OzoneHole has come to an end. The #PolarVortex split, allowing #ozone-rich air into the Arctic, closely matching last week's forecast from the #CopernicusAtmosphere Monitoring Service.
— Copernicus ECMWF (@CopernicusECMWF) April 23, 2020
Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), the European Union’s earth monitoring program on April 23, 2020, announced that the enormous hole in the Arctic ozone layer has shut. CAMS has been closely observing the one million square km-wide ozone layer hole made over the Arctic in March. Many people on the CAMS Twitter handle stated the event is the outcome of the global COVID-19 lockdown. The agency then confirmed that it has nothing to do with the lockdown.
CAMS scientist, Antje Inness, told Euronews that they don’t know why, at the moment, the dynamics were so unusual this winter. “I’m sure many scientists will do modelling studies to find out the reasons for this,” said Inness. But, the ozone layer hole above the Arctic region did not close due to the Coronavirus lockdown.
The lead researcher, Antara Banerjee of the University of Colorado, said that additional restoration of the ozone layer can happen if we fight increasing greenhouse gas emissions. She added that they term this as a ‘pause’ because the poleward circulation trends might return, stay flat, or reverse. She also said that it is a tug of war between the contrary effects of ozone recovery and rising greenhouse gases that will decide future courses.
A United Nations report from 2018 says that the ozone layer’s hole could be healed by 2060 and in some places of the world, it could be as soon as 2030.