SEP 20, 2016 02:31 PM PDT
Will the Evolution of the Ozone Hole Have a Happy Ending?
WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
3 5 384

Scientists made a startling discovery about our planet in 1974. They found that chemicals common in spray cans, known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), were creating a hole in Earth's precariously thin ozone layer. This news was frightening - scientists had been telling people that the ozone layer is what protects us from the scorching sun's rays. If a hole formed, surely it was only a matter of time before the entire layer was destroyed.

But decades after this landmark discovery, fears have quieted down significantly. Did we manage to "heal" the hole, or did our perceptions just changed? The answer is a little bit of both.

As it turns out, ozone depletion is cyclical - warm temperatures thin the ozone layer while colder temperatures allows the layer to recover. As such, the ozone hole in the Antarctic fluctuates with the season. Furthermore, fear over the ozone depletion prompted a worldwide reform known as the Montreal Protocol, which led to ozone-toxic chemicals like CFCs being phased out of use. While it could take as long as 50 to 100 years to fully get rid of all the CFCs, scientists say the movement has drastically reduced the size of the ozone hole. Furthermore, they expect the hole to be "healed" by 2050. And indeed, people are much more optimistic about this problem now than they were when it was first discovered in the 1970s.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 08, 2018
Videos
MAY 08, 2018
Can Diet Soda Make You Fat?
Diet soda is what you drink when you're trying to lose weight and still want a sweet bubbly glass of soda. It's also helpful for diabetics who can't eat to
MAY 19, 2018
Videos
MAY 19, 2018
Making Mini-brains From Neanderthal DNA
In recent years, scientists have turned to a new kind of research model: organoids. They are a miniature, simplified version of human organs that grows as
MAY 21, 2018
Videos
MAY 21, 2018
How Skin Allergies Happen
As summer approaches, many of us know to be on the lookout for certain plants that our skin doesn't like. When immune cells that we carry in our epidermis
JUN 04, 2018
Videos
JUN 04, 2018
Are Giant Pandas Overrated?
Are giant pandas overrated? Sure, they’re cute and bring a lot of tourism to zoos and wildlife parks, but they don’t do much for the environmen
JUN 15, 2018
Videos
JUN 15, 2018
Is my sweet tooth genetic?
I can’t be the only one with a sometimes-uncontrollable sweet tooth. But what’s the deal – why do I like sweets so much? “Certainly
JUN 18, 2018
Neuroscience
JUN 18, 2018
Artificial Intelligence and Superstition
When something happens, especially an adverse event, it’s human nature to try and figure out why. When people try to make sense of unfortunate events
Loading Comments...