A new study claims that gases that deplete the ozone layer may have contributed by up to 50% to half of the climate change effects that have been recorded in the Arctic between 1995 and 2005. The discovery is quite significant since it may explain why climate change has been disproportionate in the region, as the pace is quite as fast in comparison to the rest of the world.
Ozone-depleting substances, among which we can count chlorofluorocarbons (or CFCs), can increase the speed at which the atmosphere warms up at an exponential rate, far beyond the effects of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Previous research tended to focus on the way in which these gases affected the ozone layer, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, where the Antarctic ozone hole is present.
The researchers used advanced climate simulations, with some taking into account the mass emission of CFCs, which started during the 1950s. In the case of the simulations where CFCs where missing an average Arctic warming of 0.82 degrees Celsius was recorded. In contrast, the presence of CFCs led to a considerably higher value of 1.59 degrees Celsius.
The greenhouse gas that depletes the ozone layer also accelerates the Arctic warming
A major difference was also visible in sea-ice coverage. Data collected by models that tracked stable CFC concentrations in an environment where the thickness of the ozone layer was variable allowed the researchers to conclude that there is a direct connection between the harmful chemicals and climate changes.
Other studies have observed that ozone-depleting gases tend to have a warming effect. Still, the complexity of climate models complicates the task of calculating the sheer scale of the chemicals on the Arctic.
In 1989 the Montreal Protocol was adopted. The paper mentions the need to reduce the use of CFCs, and the concentrations have been declining since the start of the 2000s. Other factors may contribute to the Arctic amplification, and further research will take place in the future.