Global industrial shutdown due to Coronavirus pandemic has caused millions of workers across the world to lose their jobs. While the pandemic has posed threats to life, livelihood, and security, a positive outcome was derived. A hole in ozone layer has closed. Due to the shutdowns, many countries have noted record low pollution statistics in the past month. Sky has become more clear, water bodies seem to be in better condition, and human trash is also controlled.
This outbreak has taught us how nature can affect humans no matter whatever healthcare or space technologies we develop. A tiny virus has killed over 250,000 people. While Earth keeps on experiencing shocks by nature in forms of earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and much more, people and governments have certainly started to care about it.
Ozone layer is a part of Earth’s stratosphere that absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays that come towards the Earth. It acts as a shield and protects humans from premature ageing, tanning, and many skin diseases that occur due to radiation from UV rays. Ultraviolet radiation also damages DNA, proteins, lipids and membranes in plants. Ozone layer depletion makes life harder for plants and animals, it also poses many health risks for them. Like every other layer of atmosphere, Ozone is important for the survival of the planet.
According to surveillance by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), a massive hole in the ozone layer has now closed.
Ozone gas (O3) that is found parts of the Arctic have reached record-breaking low values this year and the ozone layer over the Arctic is severely depleted. A dense accumulation of O3 over a place forms an ozone column that supports ozone layer. Ozone depletion has been found in a column over the arctic. A similar strong chemical ozone depletion was observed over the Arctic in spring 2011. Ozone depletion in 2020 seems on course to be even stronger.
Several geographical factors have also contributed to ozone layer depletion. This year’s Arctic polar vortex was also exceptionally strong, locking out a fresh supply of ozone from the tropics and making it weaker than before.
A global call to reduce pollution and use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) also played its part in helping the Ozone layer reach back to its normal. The planetary sunscreen plays a great part in protecting our planet from the harsh UV rays of the sun and hence a cooperative action has been necessary since early detection of Ozone layer depletion. With the arctic polar vortex easing off, ozone can now drift back in without being quickly torn apart, closing up the hole for at least another year.
Although some scientists believe that the closing of the hole is because of the same polar vortex and not because of the lower pollution levels during the Coronavirus lockdown. It cannot be denied that the lowering pollution has helped the Ozone layer this time.
Ozone has been healing at a rate of 3%-5% per decade since the year 2000. The United Nations and other premier bodies expect the holes in the layer to fully recover by 2050s but until key action measures are adopted, nothing could be expected in the near future. World leaders have pledged for radical changes in various climate summits but still, a strong call from any major economy is missing.
The pandemic has shown the power of nature by forcing global superpowers to bend their knees. No one ever thought of a shutdown of this scale could happen due to a small virus but it has happened. Earth will continue to heal itself even if humans do not contribute.