Ozone Hole Current Affairs

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16 September: International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is observed every year on September 16 for the preservation of the Ozone Layer.

Significance of the Day: The day is commemoration of the date in 1987 on which the Montreal Protocol was signed on substances that deplete the ozone layer.

2016 theme: “Ozone and climate: Restored by a world united”. The theme recognizes the collective efforts of the parties to the Montreal Protocol and Vienna Convention towards the restoration of the ozone layer over the past three decades and the global commitment to combat climate change.

Background: The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had designated 16 September as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer on December 19, 1994.

What is Ozone Layer?

  • The ozone layer is a region of Earth’s stratosphere that absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation that may cause skin cancer.
  • It contains high concentrations of ozone (O3) in relation to other parts of the atmosphere. Stratospheric Ozone is not harmful, but its presence on land it is harmful.

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

  • It is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out production of numerous Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) that are responsible for ozone depletion.
  • It was agreed on 26 August 1987 in Montreal, Canada and entered into force on 26 August 1989. It was followed by a first meeting in Helsinki, May 1989.
  • Due to its universality, this international agreement has helped in recovering the ozone hole in Antarctica.
  • Under it production and consumption of key ODSs like chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs), Methyl Chloroform, CTC halons and Methyl Bromide have been phased-out globally.

Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer

  • It is a Multilateral Environmental Agreement that was agreed upon at the 1985 Vienna Conference and entered into force in 1988.
  • It is one of the most successful treaties of all time in terms of universality. It has been ratified by 197 states (all UN members as well as the Niue, Holy See and the Cook Islands) as well as European Union.
  • It acts as a framework for the international efforts to protect the ozone layer. These are laid out in the accompanying Montreal Protocol.
  • However, it does not include legally binding reduction goals for the use of CFCs, the main chemical agents causing ozone depletion.

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Antarctic ozone hole is starting to heal: Scientists

Scientists for the first time have found clear evidence that the thinning in the ozone layer above Antarctica is starting to heal.

Ozone layer in the atmosphere’s stratospheric layer comprises of Ozone (O3), an allotrope of oxygen. It plays important role in blocking harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the Sun.

The absence or thinning of Ozone layer increases the chances of skin cancer, cataract damage in human beings and even causes harm to animals and plants.

Key Findings

  • In the research, scientists have found that ozone hole was around 4 million square kilometres in September 2015, smaller than it was in the year 2000.
  • It was based on detailed measurements of the amount of ozone in the stratosphere between 2000 and 2015.
  • These measurements were based on data obtained from weather balloons, satellites and model simulations.
  • The healing of ozone layer was due to the long term phasing out (banning) of ozone-destroying chemicals (ODCs) such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in Montreal Protocol 1987.
  • More than half the shrinkage of ozone hole was due solely to the reduction in atmospheric chlorine.
  • However, it has found that on the role of volcanoes in thinning of the ozone layer is making the problem worse.
For more details: (i) Depletion of Ozone Layer (ii) Antarctic Ozone hole (iii) Is Ozone hole over only Antarctica?

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