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Ozone recovery is back on track, scientists say

Ozone recovery is back on track, scientists say

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Under protocol, evaluations like the one issued Monday are required at least every four years. In addition to NOAA scientists, participants include researchers from NASA, the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Environment Program and the European Commission.

The new assessment also looks for the first time at the effects on ozone of a potential type of climate intervention or geoengineering. The method, known as stratospheric aerosol injection, aims to cool the atmosphere by using airplanes or other means of dispersing sulfur aerosols to reflect some of the sun’s rays before they reach the surface.

The idea provoked fierce opposition. Among other objections, opponents say that interfering with the climate in this way could have severe unintended consequences, potentially altering weather patterns worldwide. But many scientists and others say that at the very least, research is neededas warming may reach a point where the world becomes desperate to try such an intervention technique, perhaps temporarily to buy time before greenhouse gas reductions have a significant effect.

NOAA’s Dr. Fahey said some studies have shown an ozone impact of sulfur aerosols, so the assessment team was tasked with looking into that.

The protocol “exists to protect the ozone layer, and we’ve done a pretty good job with it to deal with ozone-depleting substances,” he said. Looking at stratospheric aerosol injection “is in our wheelhouse,” he added.

There are many uncertainties in their findings, Dr Fahey said, but the main message is that trying to cool the planet by 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit), say, through the use of sulfur aerosols, would has some effect on ozone. But it “will not destroy the ozone layer and create catastrophic consequences,” he said.

In fact, we already knew that because Mount Pinatubo did the experiment for us,” he said, referring to the huge volcanic explosion in the Philippines in 1991 that sent massive amounts of sulfurous gas into the stratosphere, creating an aerosol haze akin to geoengineering.


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