Remember when the world came together to save the ozone layer — even Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher? The Montreal Protocol, a treaty that went into effect in 1989, curbed the use of CFCs and other chemicals that tear up the planet’s UV-absorbing sheath of ozone. But that was nearly a generation ago — and things still haven’t been fully patched up in the lower stratosphere.
The ongoing fragility of the ozone layer reminds us how long it can take for atmospheric conditions to stabilize after we have screwed them up. The L.A. Times reports:
In 2006, the ozone hole grew larger than ever. It reached a similar extent in 2011, before shrinking to its second-smallest size in 2012. Naturally occurring meteorological conditions were mostly responsible for those fluctuations, two NASA studies found.
Over the next two decades scientists expect the ozone hole to continue to vary widely.
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