Surprising Upside To Global Warming

There’s some good news on the environmental front, but it might be a double-edged sword, scientists say. In 1987 the Montreal Protocol was signed by 197 countries as a promise to stop the growth of a hole in Earth’s ozone layer by limiting their release of certain chemicals. NASA announced in September of this year that the hole is now the smallest it’s been since the accord was signed.

However, this may not be due to human efforts – at least not entirely. It turns out that the Antarctic Vortex may have prevented the chemical reactions that cause ozone deterioration from occurring. The vortex is the result of warmer temperatures (due to global warming) combining with the low pressure system above Antarctica. In other words, global warming may temporarily be helping the ozone hole.

Goddard Space Flight Center chief Earth scientist Paul A. Newman explained the unexpected phenomenon by comparing it to another weather event. “It’s like hurricanes. Some years there are fewer hurricanes that come onshore…this is a year in which the weather conditions led to better ozone [formation].”

However, this is not to say that the Montreal Protocol hasn’t been instrumental in the ozone hole’s reduction. Without the efforts of the international agreement, NASA estimates that 65% of the ozone would be gone by 2065! As it happens, the hole shrinks every day – sometimes aided by rising planetary temperatures!