Nasa finds hole over ozone at its smallest since 1988

The ozone layer plays a crucial role in protecting life on earth, as it blocks the dangerous ultraviolet rays from reaching the planet's surface. However, decades ago, scientists discovered that this protective layer is depleting due to the emission caused by manufactured chemicals that include halocarbon refrigerants, solvents, propellants, and foam blowing agents. And now, a new study has found that small levels of iodine in the earth's stratosphere is slowing down the healing process of the ozone layer.

How iodine is slowing down the ozone layer healing process?

The study team that made this finding was led by Theodore Koenig, a postdoctoral researcher at CIRES and the University of Colorado Boulder along with researchers at CIRES, CU Boulder and other institutions. During the study, researchers found that iodine slowing down the healing process around Earth's tropics and temperate zones

"The impact is maybe 1.5 to 2 percent less ozone. That may sound small, but it's important," said Theodore Koenig. It should be noted that a slightly thinner layer of ozone layer contributes to more and more ultraviolet rays reaching the earth's surface, and it will drastically affect the living creatures on the blue planet. Interestingly, this new finding comes at a time when several other studies have found that the ozone layer in the upper stratosphere has shown signs of steady recovery.

"The ozone layer is starting to show early signs of recovery in the upper stratosphere, but ozone in the lower stratosphere continues to decline for unclear reasons. Before now, the decline was thought to be due to changes in how air mixes between the troposphere and stratosphere. Our measurements show there is also a chemical explanation, due to iodine from oceans. What I find exciting is that iodine changes ozone by just enough to provide a plausible explanation for why ozone in the lower stratosphere continues to decline," said Rainer Volkamer, a researcher at CIRES in a recent statement.

Scientists, in their study report, revealed that the traces of iodine they found in the lower stratosphere are very tiny, and it is just like adding a few cups of water into a sea. However, researchers made it clear that this small amount of iodine is enough and more to destruct the ozone layer.

China's role in ozone layer depletion

A few months ago, another study report had confirmed that dangerous gas release from China to the earth's atmosphere is destroying the protective ozone layer.

This research also revealed that China accounted for 40% to 60% of the global increase in trichlorofluoromethane or CFC-11 emissions between 2014 and 2017. Researchers also added that these dangerous emissions majorly came from the northern provinces of China.