ESRL Quarterly Newsletter - Fall 2010

International Environmental Success

2010 asessment of ozone layer highlights roles of climate change, lauds Montreal Protocol

Climate change and the ozone layer are intricately coupled, and climate change will become increasingly important to the future ozone layer as ozone-depleting substances diminish in the atmosphere.

Those are among the key conclusions of the 2010 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion, a state-of-the-science volume produced by the United Nations Environment Programme and World Meteorological Organization every four years. ESRL scientists co-authored the report.

The 2010 Ozone Assessment’s executive summary, compiled with extensive contributions from ESRL and others in NOAA, was made public in September. The full report will be out early next year.

Among the conclusions:

  • The Montreal Protocol is working. Levels of most major ozone-depleting substances have dropped in the last 20 years, preventing further degradation of the ozone layer and preventing many cases of skin cancer and crop damage.
  • Because some ozone-depleting substances are also greenhouse gases, this has helped mitigate climate change.
  • Ozone in the Antarctic polar region will take longer to recover than elsewhere, since Antarctic air is more isolated from the rest of the globe.
  • The Antarctic ozone hole, which forms every spring, contributes to changes in surface climate, especially in wind and temperature patterns.
  • Some replacement substances for phased-out ozone-depleting chemicals are powerful greenhouse gases.

About 300 scientists from around the world are contributing to the 2010 Ozone Assessment, including 26 from ESRL, who served as authors, contributors, reviewers, editors, and in other support roles. More: http://www.unep.org/PDF/PressReleases/898_ExecutiveSummary_EMB.pdf.