The professor sounded the alarm Tuesday after a “big” hole that had been developing since the 1980s was discovered in the ozone layer over the tropics.
It can be compared to the well-known springtime over Antarctica, but the new area is seven times larger than in 2010, said Professor Cheng Bin Lu, a researcher at the University of Waterloo.
According to Lou, its presence could be harmful to our environment, as it could lead to an increase in ultraviolet radiation at ground level and affect 50% of the Earth’s surface area.
The ozone layer is defined as the natural gas layer located in the stratosphere, the second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Although warmer-than-average weather in the stratosphere over the past two years has reduced ozone depletion, the current area of the ozone hole is still large compared to the 1980s when ozone depletion over Antarctica was first discovered. This is because levels of ozone-depleting substances such as chlorine and bromine remain high enough to cause significant loss of the ozone layer.
In the 1970s, it was recognized that chemicals called CFCs, used in refrigeration and aerosols, for example, depleted stratospheric ozone.
In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was agreed to, leading to the phase-out of CFCs and, more recently, the first signs of ozone recovery in Antarctica.
The upper stratosphere at low latitudes is also showing clear signs of recovery, proving that the Montreal Protocol is working well.
However, Lou’s research warns of a year-round hole just above the tropics.
Professor Lu, a researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Biology and Chemistry at the University of Waterloo, said: “Tropical regions make up half the planet’s surface area and are home to about half of the world’s population. tropical ozone hole could become a serious global problem.”
Ozone depletion can increase levels of ultraviolet radiation at ground level, which can increase the risk of skin cancer and cataracts in humans, as well as weaken the human immune system, reduce agricultural productivity, and adversely affect sensitive aquatic organisms and ecosystems.
The discovery of an annual ozone hole over the tropics came as a surprise to the scientific community because it was not predicted by conventional photochemical models.
Lu said, however, that his work “builds on previous cosmic-ray-driven electron (CRE) interaction studies that initiated the ozone depletion mechanism we originally proposed about two decades ago.
The current discovery calls for a closer look at ozone depletion, UV radiation changes, increased risk of cancer and other negative health and ecosystem effects in the tropics.
Professor Martin Chipperfield, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of Leeds, said: “I am surprised that this study has ever been published in its current form. The results of this work would be quite contradictory, and I am not sure that they are correct. We already have a good understanding of polar ozone depletion due to various chemical mechanisms, and it is well established what could explain the slow and variable closing of the Antarctic ozone hole, this new study does not convince me otherwise. changes in tropical ozone have not been evident in other studies, which makes me highly doubtful. Science should not be based on the fact that I have only one study, and this new work needs to be carefully checked before it can be accepted as fact.
Source: Daily Mail