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In the early 1980s, scientists found that the ozone layer was wearing off particularly in the lower stratosphere. Besides, they discovered that the wearing off was intense during the months of September and October. The scientist coined the term ozone hole to refer to the thinning of the ozone layer at the poles and some isolated parts of the planet (Griggs par. 3). The depth of the ozone hole and the area that it covers continue to increase with time. In 2015, the ozone hole expanded to cover an area of about 28.2million square kilometers (Griggs par. 5). The size of the ozone hole did not seem to reduce throughout the month of October. Scientists claim that the Antarctic stratosphere experienced a rare cold temperature, which contributed to the enlarging of the ozone hole.
There is a misconception that the ozone hole lies over the source of ozone-depleting gases and chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The truth is that the chlorofluorocarbons are found both in the stratosphere and troposphere. Thus, the ozone hole does not necessarily have to be located close to the sources of CFCs. The presence of the ozone hole over the Antarctic and Arctic is not an indication that the poles contain high concentrations of chlorofluorocarbons (Handwerk par. 4). Instead, the low temperature at the poles leads to the formation of polar stratospheric clouds that promote the development of the ozone hole. Scientists have discovered ozone holes in other parts of the planet.
According to scientists, the ozone hole comes as a result of “increasing concentrations of ozone-depleting chemicals in the stratosphere that come from spray cans and refrigerants” (Handwerk par. 5). Chlorofluorocarbons are the primary causes of ozone depletion. The chlorofluorocarbons liberate chlorine and bromine that tear down the ozone. The depletion rate increases with a decrease in temperature. Besides, the creation of polar stratospheric clouds accelerates the formation of the ozone hole. The ozone hole is mainly large at the poles. At the poles, the CFCs take long to deplete since they embed on the ice particles. During the polar springs, the ice thaws liberating the CFCs gases, which lead to ozone depletion. There exists a unique circulation pattern in the “stratosphere above the South Pole in local winter that isolates this area from its environment” (Handwerk par. 6). The circulation is referred to as polar vortex, and it accelerates the formation of the ozone hole.
Lack of adequate information about the ozone hole leads to people associating it with global warming. Some people view global warming as a component of the ozone hole. Therefore, it is important to understand the ozone hole, its causes, and its impacts. Information about the ozone hole can enable people to differentiate it from global warming. The terminologies used in the CFCs discourses such as ozone hole and ozone shield are not “accurate” in the scientific logic. People ought to understand that the ozone hole is a depression on the lower stratosphere and not an actual hole as the term suggests. The issue of the ozone hole was considered to be a serious matter because lay people thought that it would have severe implications for their health. Some people peddled rumors that the ozone hole would cause skin cancer, destroy crops, cause cataracts, and interfere with the growth of planktons. In the United States, people abolished the use of aerosol sprays in fear that they contributed to the emergence of the ozone hole.
Whenever people mention the term ozone hole, what comes into the mind is skin cancer and sunburn. Nevertheless, the ozone hole has many problems apart from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The ozone hole has led to the alteration of weather patterns in the Southern Hemisphere. In return, it has resulted in a reduction in food production and adjustment of biodiversity. Scientists argue that climate changes in the Southern Hemisphere have had dire effects compared with the ultraviolet radiation. They allege that the ozone hole has “pulled the polar jet stream further south, increasing its strength” (Newbern par. 2). The polar jet stream helps to regulate the temperature in the Antarctic region, therefore preventing sea ice melt. The ozone hole has interfered with atmospheric circulation leading to the variation of snowfall, rain, and wind patterns in the Southern Hemisphere. Indeed, the change of the wind pattern has resulted in shifts in areas that receive a lot of snow or rain. Today, the crest of South America continues to receive a limited amount of rain.
The impact of the ozone hole on “weather patterns is most pronounced in summer and may also be responsible for more extreme events including floods, drought and wildfires throughout the Southern Hemisphere” (Newbern par. 5). These adverse weather conditions contribute to reducing water supplies. Scientists argue that it is hard to account for the overall effects of the ozone hole. In fact, there are numerous undocumented adverse effects of the ozone hole.
Countries have come together to curb the expansion of the ozone hole. Currently, states have instituted policies aimed at regulating human activities that facilitate the development of the ozone hole. In 1987, countries came up with the Montreal Protocol that sought to promote the recovery of the ozone hole. The Montreal Protocol has helped to minimize the liberation of chemicals that cause ozone depletion. In reality, the Montreal Protocol has contributed to reducing the discharge of greenhouse gases. Without the Montreal Protocol, the world would have been hotter than it is today. Advance in scientific knowledge prompted the revision of the Montreal Protocol.
Presently, the protocol regulates the production of halocarbons. Countries that are signatories to the contract are not supposed to manufacture CFCs (Newbern par. 7). The countries can only produce CFCs in small quantities for medical purposes. States that make up the European Community have gone further to implement stringent measures aimed at facilitating the recovery of the ozone hole. In 1995, the countries agreed to stop further production of the chlorofluorocarbons. Additionally, the countries decided to stop using all compounds that cause ozone depletion. The nations anticipated that the ozone hole would fully recover by 2045 (Watts par. 4). However, a study by the World Meteorological Organization indicates that the recovery process will take longer than expected.
Many people misconstrue the ozone hole for global warming. Scientists maintain that even though ozone leads to the greenhouse effect, there is no correlation between the ozone hole and global warming. Nevertheless, the ozone hole is a clear reminder of the consequences of human actions on the environment. The release of chemicals that contain both chlorine and bromine has led to the depletion of the ozone layer at the poles and other isolated parts of the planet. The depletion of the ozone layer continues to increase despite the enactment and implementation of the Montreal Protocol.
Griggs, Mary 2015, The Ozone Hole is Now Larger than North America. Web.
Handwerk, Brian 2010. Whatever happened to the Ozone Hole? Web.
Newbern, Elizabeth 2015, Ozone Hole Over Antarctica Nears Record-Breaking Size Again. Web.