In recent years, the hole in the ozone layer has started to mend, but this doesn’t mean that we are off the hook when it comes to environmental impacts. A new study explored the effects of high-intensity UV radiation on the environment, and the results range from shifting climate zones to changing the temperature of the ocean and making some species more sensitive to their surroundings.
The ozone hole was an important topic in what is deemed to be the environmental crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. The ozone layers act like a shield which protects our atmosphere by reflecting a large amount of the powerful UV rays emitted by the sun, a process which keeps the planet habitable. During the middle of the 1980s, researchers discovered a significant breach in the ozone layer, with the hole being above Antarctica.
Several tests and experiments allowed researchers to track down the culprit: chlorofluorocarbons (also known as CFCs) which were often employed for the manufacturing of refrigerants and aerosols. When the chemicals reached the upper layers of the atmosphere, they interacted with the radiation and started to dissolve ozone.
Climate Change and the impact of the ozone layer hole on it
In an attempt to mitigate the damage the Montreal protocol was created, and CFCs were phased out as a result. The change was quite beneficial, and after more than three decades, there is hope that the whole will disappear in the future. However, the repair process is slow, and the hole can exert some influence over the environment.
It seems that the most considerable change is linked to the Antarctic Oscillation, which is a wind belt that surrounds the Southern Hemisphere and may go to north and south in some cases. Data collected during the study inferred that the oscillation was pushed towards south at a considerably higher rate in comparison to the last thousand years.
Select parts of the ocean are also becoming warmer or cooler, with dire consequences for the local ecosystems. The study was published in a scientific journal.