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4 New Gases Found Depleting Ozone Layer
Mar 13, 2014

A new research has found 4 New Gases in the atmosphere that could potentially contribute to the depletion of the Ozone layer. The research showed that these four gases have been released into the atmosphere recently, with two that are accumulating rather quickly. In terms of their levels, they’re actually not an immediate threat to the Ozone layer. The research was conducted under Johannes Laube’s guidance from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, England.

The Ozone layer, found in the stratosphere, protects us from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. CFCs basically eat away at the ozone, creating a large hole, also called the Ozone hole, found mainly at the South Pole.

In the 1980s huge quantities of CFCs were found in the atmosphere. The new measurements were taken by comparing air samples from today with the air trapped in polar snow called firn. Firn keeps a history of air in the atmosphere.

Scientists have detected these four new man-made gases that damage the Earth's protective Ozone layer, despite bans on almost all production of similar gases under a 1987 treaty. The Ozone layer shields the planet from damaging ultra-violet rays, which can cause skin cancer and eye cataracts, and has been recovering after a phase-out of damaging chemicals under the U.N.'s 1987 Montreal Protocol.

In total, the scientists estimated more than 74,000 metric tons of the four had been released to the atmosphere. None was present before the 1960s in Greenland's ice cores. The gases were detected earlier in Greenland than Tasmania, indicating they were produced in the Northern Hemisphere and then blown south. While these newly discovered gases can cause some damage to the Ozone layer, their combined abundance is over 500 times smaller than that of the main Ozone-destroying compounds in the 1990s.

These gases are also likely to be powerful greenhouse gases, albeit in tiny amounts. CFCs are often thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

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