New Zealand sci­en­tists in Antarc­tica say ozone hole heal­ing

Iran Daily - - Science & Technology -

The ozone hole is slowly on the mend, ac­cord­ing to New Zealand sci­en­tists study­ing the at­mo­sphere over Antarc­tica.

The data comes from a tiny ob­ser­va­tion lab that has been run­ning at Scott Base, New Zealand’s out­post on the frozen con­ti­nent, for the past 30 years, new­shub.co.nz wrote.

Sup­port work­ers like Antarc­tica New Zealand’s Hue Tran drive up to the base ev­ery sunny day, ex­pos­ing the in­stru­ments to the sun, and send­ing data back to Welling­ton to be an­a­lyzed.

The base is home to sev­eral at­mo­spheric stud­ies and re­search there into the ozone hole over Antarc­tica has be­come one of the most lon­grun­ning and au­thor­i­ta­tive re­search projects in the world.

Ozone ab­sorbs ul­tra­vi­o­let light emit­ted by the Sun, pro­tect­ing hu­mans, plants and an­i­mals from ra­di­a­tion that can cause things like skin can­cer and sun­burn. The ozone hole is known to cause skin can­cer and sun­burn.

The re­mote re­search cen­ter means sci­en­tists like Richard Querel, based at Lauder in Otago, can make their as­sess­ments with­out leav­ing home.

It shows that slowly over time the ozone hole is get­ting smaller thanks to the in­ter­na­tional ban on the chem­i­cal chlo­roflu­o­ro­car­bon (CFC), which is used in re­frig­er­ants and known to de­stroy ozone.

“You’re get­ting this kind of slow ramp-down and yes you see this heal­ing, this re­cov­ery that’s be­ing talked about. In the last few years, it looks like we’re kind of at this turn­ing point that re­cov­ery’s ac­tu­ally be­gin­ning,” he said.

The sci­en­tist, who has a sis­ter ma­chine set up in Lauder, said while there are im­prove­ments over­all, there are some ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the data, in­di­cat­ing that some coun­tries have started mak­ing CFCS again in vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional law.

“There are some stud­ies mid-2018 that pointed to South­east Asia as a pos­si­ble source for some of these and so that might be in foam man­u­fac­tur­ing, or they were think­ing maybe it was refrigeration recycling that pos­si­bly wasn’t be­ing done to spec.

“A lot of it still ex­ists, but it’s al­most just wait­ing be­cause it’s in a fire ex­tin­guisher, or it’s in an old re­frig­er­a­tor that’s at a land­fill. And so some of these are go­ing to come out as these things get pro­cessed again.”

But long term stud­ies mean old equip­ment and back on the ice, the ma­chines mak­ing it all pos­si­ble are straight out an­other era.

The ozone ma­chine, known as a Dob­son, was built in the early 1930s.

It was brought to the ice in 1988 and has been mea­sur­ing ozone ever since, split­ting the light with a prism and run­ning it through a com­pli­cated sys­tem of mir­rors.

It is man­aged in Antarc­tica by tech­ni­cal sup­port worker Tran, who said the best read­ings are gath­ered on sunny, cloud­less days.

“What we do here is so im­por­tant, es­pe­cially the Dob­son, be­cause it mea­sures the ozone and the ozone is what pro­tects from the ra­di­a­tion from the sun,” she said.

“You get to save the en­vi­ron­ment and that’s the best feel­ing ever.”

GETTY IM­AGES

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