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23/01/2019
BBC Radio 5 live

    Should we still be worried about the hole in the ozone layer?

    BBC weather presenter

    Download BBC Weather's Under The Weather podcast. 

    I present the BBC’s weather podcast Under the Weather with my friend and fellow meteorologist Clare Nasir.

    When we were thinking about subjects to discuss, I wanted to know if we should still be worried about the hole in the ozone layer?

    Twenty odd years ago, when I was doing my GCSEs and my passion for all things weather was forming, the word 'ozone' was on the tip of everyone’s tongues.

    Every time you turned on the news there were calls for CFCs to be banned, celebrities were fighting for them to be banished and there was a general sense that something needed to be done.

    Thankfully it was done, and quickly. Only a few years after the impact of CFCs was linked to the hole in the ozone layer, changes began.

    The Montreal Treaty was agreed in only two years, committing countries around the world to ban ozone damaging chemicals such as CFCs.

    It’s hard to believe that such an important and impactful treaty was agreed in such a short space of time, and I doubt that today such a plan would be delivered so quickly.

    Despite the treaty being signed in 1987, it was in 2006 when the ozone hole reached its peak.

    Which, just goes to show, that the choices we make today impact on our world for years to come.

    But since then, the hole in the ozone layer isn’t really on the mainstream agenda.

    For me as a meteorologist, it’s still very much part of my thinking because the ozone layer is a very important part of our natural defence to harmful UV rays.

    It’s Earth’s sun cream if you like.

    While the ozone hole was known to increase rates of skin cancer in Australia, studies have shown it has also had some impacts in the weather across the Southern Hemisphere.

    Atmospheric and oceanic circulations may have been altered to bring wetter conditions to the sub-tropics and there is partial blame for it warming and melting the western Antarctic ice sheet.

    We spoke to Professor Lucy Carpenter from the University of York who explained why the ozone layer is still relevant decades after it was discovered.

    Maybe our next challenge won’t be dealing with too little ozone, it may be dealing with too much?

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