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Earth NASA Science

Hole In The Ozone Layer Smallest In 29 Years (weather.com) 181

An anonymous reader quotes the Weather Channel: The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica is the smallest it's been since 1988, NASA said. According to a press release, the hole in the Earth's ozone layer is 1.3 million square miles smaller than last year and 3.3 million square miles smaller than 2015... This year, the hole grew to 7.6 million square miles. NASA and NOAA scientists said warmer temperatures and a stormier upper atmosphere helped keep damaging chemicals chlorine and bromine from eating ozone from the layer that protects the Earth's surface from harmful ultraviolet rays... The hole that hovers over Antarctica has been slowly recovering, scientists say, due to an international ban on harmful chemicals that were previously used in refrigerants and aerosols.

The hole was its largest in 2000 and measured 11.5 million square miles. Although recovery is underway, the size of the hole remains large compared to the 1980s, when the hole was first detected, NASA noted. And while there has been significant healing of the ozone layer in recent years, some scientists say full healing is a slow process and will not occur until sometime in the 22nd century, Yale Environment 360 reports. Others expect the Antarctic ozone hole to recover back to 1980 levels around 2070, NASA said.

Hole In The Ozone Layer Smallest In 29 Years

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  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @01:15PM (#55494271) Homepage
    This is a really good demonstration that we can handle serious environmental problems if we put in the effort, and we can do so without substantial economic impact. Yes, global warming is a more large scale problem than ozone depletion but the basic point remains. We've now essentially solved both the ozone hole problem and acid rain, through a combination of market forces, better technology, and government incentives. We can do the same for global warming. Let's actually do that. Unfortunately, over the last few years, some aspects of the right in the US have become so against helping the environment that they are blocking any serious attempt to deal with these issues, and we'll all going to suffer as a result.
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @01:43PM (#55494419)

      We've mostly "mastered" it because industries found inexpensive replacements for pollutants and they managed to use imposing pollution standards as a way to stem competition from poorer nations that cannot match environment standards and thus can't enter markets that require industries to heed standards.

      It's not that easy this time. China is way ahead in its "green" industry efforts while your head honcho is trying to push coal. If you forced environmental standards onto industries, the US would not be among the winners this time.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 05, 2017 @01:56PM (#55494497)

        your head honcho is trying to push coal

        Correction: Clean Coal

        Clean American coal is the future for America and America's energy supply

        • Of course. Clean coal - right up there with military intelligence and forced consent.

          "Clean Coal" covers a wide range of unrelated technologies,most aimed at reducing traditional toxic pollution. The only way it helps with global warming is if you're specifically doing *extremely* effective CO2 capture. And then only if you've come up with something to do with the captured gas - so far we haven't really - all the remotely affordable "sequestering" suggestions appear to only contain it for a few decades -

      • Indeed.

        This is the reason I'm still (cautiously) optimistic about humanity: scientists discovered chlorofluorcarbons were destroying the ozone layer, and you know what? Humans PHASED THEM OUT.
        Sometimes humans DO do the right thing.
        http://www.theozonehole.com/im... [theozonehole.com]

        We've mostly "mastered" it because industries found inexpensive replacements for pollutants and they managed to use imposing pollution standards as a way to stem competition from poorer nations that cannot match environment standards and thus can't enter markets that require industries to heed standards.

        Citation needed. And to a credible source, please. Or, to phrase this more bluntly: you're wrong.

        The drop in production of ozone destroying CFCs started well before the Montreal protocol-- humans stopped using the ozone-destroying CFCs without be

        • It turns out, actually, that humans are very good at solving problems. Once we clearly identify a problem, there are a lot of people who are willing to work hard at finding solutions.

          True that.

          The drop in production of ozone destroying CFCs started well before the Montreal protocol-- humans stopped using the ozone-destroying CFCs without being legally required to.

          Whilst not speaking to cause the UNEP ozone secretariat [unep.org] does report [unep.org] on ozone consumption per its obligations under the Montreal Protocol. It reports consumption and effect of ozone through reporting mechanisms.

          The US's consumption can be clearly seen using the Data Reporting Tool and it is in line with the consumption of the producer [slashdot.org], The Paducah nuclear fuel enrichment facility for the years it was operating.

          I think you are right to say that industry did a good job of reducing their consumptio

      • We've mostly "mastered" it because industries found inexpensive replacements for pollutants

        Which they wouldn't have been looking for if we hadn't forced them to.

    • No no no, you got it all wrong!
      It is a clear case that the alarmists 30 years ago had no clue at all!

    • Excuse me? It looks more and more like the ozone hole had nothing to do with CFCs. It's a natural phenomena and it's probably been there a lot longer than humans have been around.

      • It looks to me like your head has been stuffed up another sort of hole for some time.
      • First it was hair spray...now its car emissions. What's next? Cow flatulence?

      • by clovis ( 4684 ) on Monday November 06, 2017 @12:41AM (#55497021)

        The annual ozone hole is a natural phenomenon, but historically the hole was a small fraction of the size than what we have had since the 1980's.
        https://ozonewatch.gsfc.nasa.g... [nasa.gov]
        Compare the 1979-1982 ozone hole size and Antarctica ozone levels before 1983 to after.

        That the ozone depletion/ozone hole continued to grow after the Montreal agreement was predicted.
        The problem we faced is that the rate of production of CFCs vastly exceeded the rate of degradation of CFCs in the atmosphere so we were facing an accelerating rate of ozone depletion. The ozone hole was growing rapidly in size every year, and the global ozone levels were decreasing.
        https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd/... [noaa.gov]

        The problem CFCs and related compounds have a very long lifetime in the lower atmosphere, on the order of a century, and on the order of decades in the stratosphere. Once a CFC is degraded by UV and releases a free chlorine or bromine, the free Cl or Br atom can continue to catalyze ozone to O2 for a few years before the free atom binds with hydrogen and falls back down to the lower atmosphere and get washed out.

        Here's a document with graphs showing the continuing post-Montreal increase and subsequent drop-off in atmospheric concentrations.
        https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd/... [noaa.gov]

        Here's an executive summary of the situation in 2014.
        https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd/... [noaa.gov]

        Actions taken under the Montreal Protocol have led to decreases in the atmospheric abundance of controlled ozone-depleting substances (ODSs), and are enabling the return of the ozone layer toward 1980 levels.
              The sum of the measured tropospheric abundances of substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol continues to decrease. Most of the major controlled ODSs are decreasing largely as projected, and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and halon-1301 are still increasing. Unknown or unreported sources of carbon tetrachloride are needed to explain its abundance.
              Measured stratospheric abundances of chlorine- and bromine-containing substances originating from the degradation of ODSs are decreasing. By 2012, combined chlorine and bromine levels (as estimated by Equivalent Effective Stratospheric Chlorine, EESC) had declined by about 10–15% from the peak values of ten to fifteen years ago. Decreases in atmospheric abundances of methyl chloroform (CH3CCl3), methyl bromide (CH3Br), and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) contributed approximately equally to these reductions.
              Total column ozone declined over most of the globe during the 1980s and early 1990s (by about 2.5% averaged over 60S to 60N). It has remained relatively unchanged since 2000, with indications of a small increase in total column ozone in recent years, as expected. In the upper stratosphere there is a clear recent ozone increase, which climate models suggest can be explained by comparable contributions from declining ODS abundances and upper stratospheric cooling caused by carbon dioxide increases.
              The Antarctic ozone hole continues to occur each spring, as expected for the current ODS abundances. The Arctic stratosphere in winter/spring 2011 was particularly cold, which led to large ozone depletion as expected under these conditions.
              Total column ozone will recover toward the 1980 benchmark levels over most of the globe under full compliance with the Montreal Protocol. This recovery is expected to occur before midcentury in midlatitudes and the Arctic, and somewhat later for the Antarctic ozone hole.

        • That the ozone depletion/ozone hole continued to grow after the Montreal agreement was predicted.

          It astounds me that people on /., who are supposed to be technically competent, don't understand the difference between non-linear short term effects and long term linear effects.

          If you were to place an oscilloscope on a 5V power supply, and capture the signal as I increased the voltage to 10V, you would be able to see a ton of non-linear ringing etc. where the voltage actually decreases over certain time intervals. Yet for many on this site, apparently that would prove to them that I did not actually incre

    • First it was hair spray...now it's car emissions. What's next? Cow flatulence?

  • agw (Score:4, Funny)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @01:17PM (#55494283) Journal
    That's why we have global warming. Shouldn't have covered it up so some of the steam can come out, keep things cooler. I don't know what NASA is doing, I think for three minutes and I come up with better ideas than all of NASA scientists. This is why Donald Trump got elected wake up.
  • Thank Bush 41 (Score:5, Informative)

    by known_coward_69 ( 4151743 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @01:18PM (#55494285)

    he pushed through an amendment to the clean air act in 1989 to ban the use of ozone depleting chemicals

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by whoever57 ( 658626 )

      Which shows how crazy the current crop of Republicans are.

      • The parties switched ideologies in the last 15 years or so. The current republicans under trump are the democrats of 30 years ago. pushing a protectionist agenda to benefit people who refuse to change. The democrats are all about working with business to push the country forward

        • by gtall ( 79522 )

          Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are working with business? How do you figure? They still kowtow to the unions which are generally anti-free trade, at least their leaders are.

          The Republicans have kicked all the smart people out of the party. Now it is left with dolts from the Religious Right, the Ditto-Heads of Rush Limbaugh, and Russian stooges.

          • Bernie is against free trade, but he clearly does not represent the democratic party, he only represents the people. He was an independent until recently and the party did everything they could to keep him out of the presidency.

            • FYI, Bernie Sanders is once again an Independent. I believe he became one again almost immediately upon losing the nomination.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Both parties represent by harmful extremes, because they are dominated by extremists.

          No, the democrats are not "all about working with business to push the country forward." They are about maintaining power for the democratic party, and paying lip service to whatever currently-popular idea will do that, and then turning around and consolidating their power base, just like the republicans do.

          You want to believe that the democrats are right and the republicans are wrong. Your mind will accommodate this by e

          • I think that this is all down to gerrymandering.

            Districts get gerrymandered to make them 'safe' for a given party. However, this also allows those with more extreme views to win, because they don't have to win as many (or sometimes any) moderates or independents. In turn, this makes the previously moderate candidates become more extreme to avoid being challenged by someone even more extreme.

            This perfectly fits the pattern we see now. Honestly I think it's worse on the Reps' side, simply because it will alwa

        • Re:Thank Bush 41 (Score:5, Interesting)

          by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @09:53PM (#55496439) Journal

          The parties switched ideologies in the last 15 years or so.

          A convenient but false narrative. Convenient because it allows people to rationalize their support of the party of racists and bigots.

          What has happened is that the center of politics has shifted to the right, so that the Dems are now where the Republicans were a few years ago and the Republicans are far to the right.

          • I think it depends on whether you are looking at fiscal policy or social policy. On the former, I agree. On the latter, not so much.

    • It remained 'controversial' until Dupont found replacement chemicals that worked almost as well. At that point, everyone was happy to ban them.
      • DuPont had the patent on R-12, which was expiring. Just in time, they "discovered" and patented other CFC's (like R-134a); R-12 was banned. Maybe I'm too suspicious...maybe not.

    • Which is why the hole is exactly the same as it always was.

    • We can also thank Congress as well. And I don't just mean the party in charge of Congress (at the time the Dems), because the bill passed with overwhelming support in both houses (401-21 and 89-11).

      I point this out for 2 reasons. One is to remember a time when the parties did actually achieve things working together. The second is to give credit and also hold responsible the correct branches of government for various actions. Our tendency nowadays to lay everything at the feet of the President is why certai

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @01:19PM (#55494295)
    It's a good thing this happened in the 70's and 80's when conservatives were still reasonable. The montreal protocol would have never passed today. [wikipedia.org] Australians and those in the southern united states would be red and blistered and hollering about "hands off my fridge" and liberal conspiracies about invisible rays.
    • So true, although it's important to note that still reasonable applies to both sides of the aisle nowadays.

      It seems counter-intuitive that we would be moving backwards in so many ways, with the free proliferation of information currently available to everyman; yet, that's where we are, with every fringe belief able to find something on the interwebz that seems to confirm his/her preconceived notion of the way things are.

      More access to information seemingly does not promote clarity, but confusion, as the v

      • So true, although it's important to note that still reasonable applies to both sides of the aisle nowadays.

        That seems like false equivalence to me. The left seems willing to compromise on most issues. The one notable exception is whether or not police should be able to shoot black people consequence free, but the elected left-wingers aren't really doing much about that either, and left-leaning voters aren't bothering to elect those that are.

        At the very least, you can't tell me that there's the same AMOUNT of irrationality on the left as there is on the right.

        • Irrationality is a difficult measure to gauge. Blaming one party for the ills of society conveniently simplifies things for the root for us or them crowd. The fact that there are only two national platforms from which to align ideologically virtually guarantees that there's at least a plank in either party's platform that gives pause, no matter where you find yourself, left-middle-right, on the spectrum.

          I suppose the right's blemishes are currently enhanced by the panderer-in-chief, yet the Dems would be i

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Conservation is the most conservative of the liberal positions, if you think about it.

    • I well remember all the crying and whining about how we'd have to give up refrigeration and air conditioning when this happened. Exactly the same sentiments when the laws phasing out leaded gasoline came into force -- we were going to have to give up cars. Now those people were the real doom and gloom snowflakes -- civilization ending because we needed to make some technological changes to existing infrastructure and technology.

  • Note to Republicans (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 05, 2017 @01:25PM (#55494323)

    The Montreal Protocol is an international agreement to reduce emissions of ozone-depleting gases. It was ratified in 1989 with leadership from the United States, and has been very successful at reducing the ozone hole. President Reagan and President Bush (41) both supported the Montreal Protocol. Reagan overruled members of the cabinet who opposed the agreement. The State Department under the Bush administration warned that we cannot wait on acting to prevent climate change. History should remember these Republicans favorably as accepting science and taking action to mitigate climate change. Modern Republicans should take note. The Republican Party was not always willing to deny science for the purpose of helping big business.

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @01:47PM (#55494435)

      What's really crazy about this is that the older ones of us will remember Reagan well.

      If I told you in 88 that Reagan will be considered in hindsight to be a level headed, sensible, intelligent and fairly moderate Republican, you'd probably have looked at me like I had three heads.

      • Lot of similarities to the Reagan administration. Wasn't Reagan shot just a few months after becoming president? Things were pretty well run by Bush after that.
        • From what I remember things seemed to be run by Nancy Reagan...

          As for Bush senior, he was supposedly out of the loop, at least where things like Iran-Contra were concerned...

          • As for Bush senior, he was supposedly out of the loop, at least where things like Iran-Contra were concerned...

            Right, former head of the CIA was just blindsided and amazed by the whole thing! So plausible! Honest!

        • Things were pretty well run by Bush after that.

          No. Bush and Reagan did not like each other. Bush was not part of the White House inner circle, and he had very little influence during Reagan's presidency. In 1988, Reagan gave him a late and lukewarm endorsement as his successor, 20 minutes into a pre-recorded speech focusing mostly on other issues.

          • Old George H.W. did pretty well for himself for a fellow who according to you was on the periphery. The last couple years of Reagan's 2nd term his biggest problem was staying awake.
      • Tip O'Neil, "Bedtime for Bonzo" jokes, and "I didn't vote for Nancy" bumper stickers... Bush 41 calling Reagan's trickle-down tax breaks for the wealthy "Voodoo Economics" before joining him as his running mate.

        Lest our propensity to wax nostalgic gets too far out of hand, let's not forget that during The Reagan's time in office is when the War on Drugs really ramped up and there was that Iran-Contra debacle...

        Sigh! Compared to what we have today, it does sound pretty dreamy!

        • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @03:37PM (#55494959)

          And, Reagan got snookered by Tip O'Neill. Reagan would get his tax cuts and O'Neill would cut the appropriations. O'Neill never followed through and knew that his caucus didn't give a flying rat's ass what O'Neill promised Reagan, it was an empty promise.

          Reagan at least knew that cutting taxes would increase the deficit and hence wanted the appropriations cut. When that didn't happen, his administration discovered voodoo economics. The economy was fueled by deficit spending and the beginnings of the tech revolution. Also the business cycle recovered from Carter's years.

          The current lot of Republicans never learned that lesson. They somehow believe that since Kennedy cut taxes and increased tax receipts as a result, they can do the same thing. When taxes are that high (over 70% in some cases), that works. When taxes are relatively low like now, it doesn't work. They figure if they give companies and rich people more money, they'll invest in more business. What they leave out is that demand hasn't changed. Businessmen and rich people aren't stupid, they won't invest to meet non-existent demand.

          Republicans also feel nostalgia for Bill Clinton and the boom economy of the 1990s. That happened because of the tech boom and the race to fix Y2K. Once that was over, in approx. April-May of 2000, the economy started tanking.

          Believing a lie is never a recipe for success.

      • What's really crazy about this is that the older ones of us will remember Reagan well.

        If I told you in 88 that Reagan will be considered in hindsight to be a level headed, sensible, intelligent and fairly moderate Republican, you'd probably have looked at me like I had three heads.

        That would be an insane statement to make. You forget the word "relative to modern idiots". He was still an belligerent dumbass, with fiscal policies so dangerous they are still running the US into the ground today. (loan money and spend them to prop up the economy, and just give tax cuts and ignore the giant hole in the budget they leave, people will love you for it!)

    • No, it was successful at reducing the use of CFCs. It did nothing to reduce the size of the ozone hole.

  • It just takes concerted effort combined with some scientific advancements.

    1) Things we do can affect the earth.
    2) If we don't like the affect, we can take actions to undo it.

  • by millertym ( 1946872 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @01:52PM (#55494471)

    Humanity could fix the CO2 global warming issue as well, faster than expected, if united in focus on changing the current status quo.

    • I'm sorry to tell you, but they won't. They're too busy inventing new digital watches and largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper.

      • Then make the reduction of CO2 benefit the movement of small green pieces of paper. By that I mean, make "going green" profitable. Energy is big business. People will spend a lot of money on anything that can replace coal, oil, and natural gas. Don't force people to reduce their carbon footprint with taxes, mandates, peer pressure, or whatever. Make reducing carbon output cheaper than the status quo and no one will be forced to switch, they'll do it on their own for those little green pieces of paper.

        T

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Humanity could fix the CO2 global warming issue as well, faster than expected, if united in focus on changing the current status quo.

      Unlikely. The ozone layer was badly affected by a few chemicals for which we found alternatives. The vast majority of our energy production comes from fossil fuels and there's more people who want a higher standard of living every day. Even with a massive increase in renewable energy, green technology etc. total emissions are going up [epa.gov] and will likely continue to rise as a billion Indians follow China, they're now roughly where China was 25 years ago. You can get a big report here (PDF) [iea.org] that'll break it down

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

      The CO2 problem will be fixed in one of two ways:

      1. The world will unite and through a massive coordinated and concerted effort will move away from carbon based sources of energy and more towards long term sustainable sources limiting and eventually reducing global warming over the next couple of centuries.

      2. The world will continue it's divisive and pointless quibbles as the world heats up, eventually leading to massive resource wars that will all but end humanity thus eliminating CO2 production and bringi

  • Clear and present (Score:5, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @02:47PM (#55494679) Journal

    Before we pat ourselves on the back, we should remember that the Trump administration just appointed a man to the EPA advisory board who believes that the air in America is, "a little too clean for optimum health".

    No, I'm not joking. That's what he said. .

    https://www.independent.co.uk/... [independent.co.uk]

    • Actions speak louder than words. I can point to all kinds of statements from previous administrations that contradict their actions. Let's see what the EPA does rather than focus on any single statement made by someone within it.

      I've also seen the EPA in the past get involved into far too many details of our lives. I'd appreciate an EPA that would not (or was unable to) declare every mud puddle "navigable waters" and therefore under federal jurisdiction. I'd prefer an EPA that doesn't take a decade to a

      • Maybe this means taking a step back and coming up with a less "green" solution in the short term so that people have a better future in the long term.

        We've been coming up with less "green" solutions for a couple hundred years. Maybe let's try something else.

        Also, it's one thing to say "the air is a little too clean" and another to say "let the world burn".

        Oh, that was only one example. How about Energy Secretary Rick Perry saying, three days ago, that burning fossil fuels can prevent sexual assaults.

        I'm

        • We've been coming up with less "green" solutions for a couple hundred years. Maybe let's try something else.

          Yes, let's try something else. Perhaps we should aim for what is possible instead of was it perfect. If we listen to moonbats like Helen Caldicott [wikipedia.org] then we'd be reading books by candlelight, drinking beer from steel cans (assuming she "allows" us that luxury), and trying to power the industry on solar energy. Such a "perfect" world ignores so much of reality that nothing we do would be good enough. What also prevents us from such perfection is that so many people have their own definition of "perfect" th

  • I'm happy to know that after almost three decades of hard work, we finally saved the end zone layer.

  • by DCFusor ( 1763438 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @04:16PM (#55495135) Homepage
    Fixing the ozone hole (freon) by replacing freon with hydrofluorcarbons was a big mistake, they are far more potent greenhouse gases. Don't pat humans on the back yet, we're not that smart. Ref: https://phys.org/news/2017-11-... [phys.org] Citation provided.
  • ... for AGW!

    warmer temperatures and a stormier upper atmosphere helped keep damaging chemicals chlorine and bromine from eating ozone from the layer that protects the Earth's surface from harmful ultraviolet rays

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @07:29PM (#55495857) Journal

    Until 25 years ago every can of spray and every fridge was "powered" by CFCs, since we abolished them the Ozone layer is recovering slowly.

    However the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant [wikipedia.org] was the largest emitter of CFC114 into the atmosphere for many years due to the miles of pipes that it used to pump the gas to enrich uranium in the form of Uranium hexafluoride [wikipedia.org] or "Hex". CFC-114 was one of the gasses known to deplete the ozone layer and was regulated by the Montreal Protocol [wikipedia.org]. The Nuclear Industry had an exemption to the M.P so it could use CFC114 in the enrichment process and while it was still operating it leaked over a ton of CFC114 into the atmosphere each day of those 25 or so, years. The plant was closed down in 2013 so it isn't very surprising that the hole in the ozone layer is starting to recover.

    CFC114 is the primary chemical input to enriching Nuclear fuel prior to its use in Nuclear Reactors. Several years ago I was curious about this and I used data available from the US EPA web site on licenced CFC emitters and discovered that the largest emitter there was from the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Its a shame the EPA has had so much of their potency knobbled for political expediency of both sides because this is a great example of how it produces positive results in the long term.

    It shows humans can fix problems when we are open and honest about the data and what it means, that our systems can work when we let them.

  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @09:56PM (#55496453)

    ...the hole in the Earth's ozone layer is 1.3 million square miles smaller than last year and 3.3 million square miles smaller than 2015... This year, the hole grew to 7.6 million square miles.

    If the 2017 size is 1.3m sq mi smaller than 2016, how did the hole "grow" to 7.6 million sq miles?

    • It gets bigger and smaller every year much like the arctic ice cap. So it grew to a maximum of 7.6 million sq miles which was a smaller maximum than 2016.

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