Magnetic Storms Expected – Scientists say the ozone layer is recovering

Another large solar flare has occurred. Measuring as an X class event, topping out at X1.



ENLIL Solar spiral blast trajectory shows the Flare to be fully Earth directed: screenshot and animation below:





iSWACygnetStreamer (2)

Here are the preliminary measurements on the flare:

Xray (2)

Here is the last M-class M5 flare from 2 days ago, hitting Earth now.




WASHINGTON (AP) — Earth’s protective ozone layer is beginning to recover, largely because of the phase-out since the 1980s of certain chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans, a U.N. scientific panel reported Wednesday in a rare piece of good news about the health of the planet.

Scientists said the development demonstrates that when the world comes together, it can counteract a brewing ecological crisis.

For the first time in 35 years, scientists were able to confirm a statistically significant and sustained increase in stratospheric ozone, which shields the planet from solar radiation that causes skin cancer, crop damage and other problems.

From 2000 to 2013, ozone levels climbed 4 percent in the key mid-northern latitudes at about 30 miles up, said NASA scientist Paul A. Newman. He co-chaired the every-four-years ozone assessment by 300 scientists, released at the United Nations.

“It’s a victory for diplomacy and for science and for the fact that we were able to work together,” said chemist Mario Molina. In 1974, Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland wrote a scientific study forecasting the ozone depletion problem. They won the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work.

The ozone layer had been thinning since the late 1970s. Man-made chlorofluorocarbons, called CFCs, released chlorine and bromine, which destroyed ozone molecules high in the air. After scientists raised the alarm, countries around the world agreed to a treaty in 1987 that phased out CFCs. Levels of those chemicals between 30 and 50 miles up are decreasing.

The United Nations calculated in an earlier report that without the pact, by 2030 there would have been an extra 2 million skin cancer cases a year around the world.

Paradoxically, heat-trapping greenhouse gases — considered the major cause of global warming — are also helping to rebuild the ozone layer, Newman said. The report said rising levels of carbon dioxide and other gases cool the upper stratosphere, and the cooler air increases the amount of ozone.

And in another worrisome trend, the chemicals that replaced CFCs contribute to global warming and are on the rise, said MIT atmospheric scientist Susan Solomon. At the moment, they don’t make much of a dent, but they are expected to increase dramatically by 2050 and make “a big contribution” to global warming.

The ozone layer is still far from healed. The long-lasting, ozone-eating chemicals still lingering in the atmosphere create a yearly fall ozone hole above the extreme Southern Hemisphere, and the hole hasn’t closed up. Also, the ozone layer is still about 6 percent thinner than in 1980, by Newman’s calculations.

Ozone levels are “on the upswing, but it’s not there yet,” he said.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, said there are encouraging signs that the ozone layer “is on track to recovery by the middle of this century.”

Steiner called the effort to get rid of ozone-destroying substances “one of the great success stories of international collective action in addressing a global environmental change phenomenon.”

“More than 98 percent of the ozone-depleting substances agreed over time have actually been phased out,” he said. If not for such efforts, Steiner said, “we would be seeing a very substantial global ozone depletion today.”

Paul Wapner, a professor of global environmental politics at American University, said the findings are “good news in an often dark landscape” and send a message of hope to world leaders meeting later this month in New York for a U.N. climate summit.

“The precedent is truly important because society is facing another serious global environmental problem, namely climate change,” said Molina, a professor in San Diego and Mexico City. The 71-year-old scientist said he didn’t think he would live to see the day that the ozone layer was rebuilding.

Earlier this week, the United Nations announced that atmospheric levels of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, surged to another record high in 2013. The increase from 2012 was the biggest jump in three decades.



Following a harrowing depletion in recent decades, Earth’s protective ozone layer, high in the planet’s atmosphere, is on the track to recovery, according to a new report released today (Sept. 10) at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The evaluation, conducted by 282 scientists from 36 countries, credits much of this recovery to international action that phased out the production and use of ozone-depleting chemicals.

Since the last comprehensive ozone assessment in 2010, the use of most of these harmful substances has continued to drop, and the ozone may be on the path to recovery, according to the new report. [Earth in the Balance: 7 Crucial Tipping Points]

“There are telltale signs of ozone recovery in the upper part of the stratosphere,” A.R. Ravishankara, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) emeritus scientist, professor at Colorado State University and co-chairman of the panel that prepared the report, said in a statement.

The ozone layer, located in Earth’s stratosphere miles above the ground, shields the planet from much of the sun’s damaging ultraviolet radiation. In the 1970s, researchers realized that gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons — which were commonly used in appliances such as refrigerators, spray cans, insulation foam and fire suppressants — led to the depletion of the ozone layer, NOAA researchers said. In 1985, the scientific community found a seasonal “ozone hole” over Antarctica, and spurred action to prevent its growth.

Starting in 1987, almost 200 countries joined together to ratify the Montreal Protocol, which is designed to phase out ozone-depleting substances, NOAA researchers said.

“There are positive indications that the ozone layer is on track to recovery towards the middle of the century,” UN Under-Secretary-General and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement. “The Montreal Protocol — one of the world’s most successful environmental treaties — has protected the stratospheric ozone layer and avoided enhanced UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface.”

If the Montreal Protocol had not passed, the use of ozone-depleting substances could have increased tenfold by 2050, UNEP officials said. Instead, by 2030, the protocol will have prevented an estimated 2 million cases of skin cancer annually, and will continue to protect wildlife and agriculture, according to the UNEP.

The new report also highlights the intricate links between the ozone layer’s recovery and climate change, Ravishankara said. For instance, some chemicals that have replaced ozone-depleting substances are still potent greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming.

To fight back, scientists from NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory are testing potential substances that are safe for the ozone layer, climate and environment, experts said.

If countries continue to abide by the Montreal Protocol, ozone levels across the globe are expected to recover to 1980 concentrations before the year 2050, but the hole over the South Pole likely won’t heal until 2070, Ravishankara said.

Researchers affiliated with the UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) plan to keep a close eye on ozone levels in the years to come, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement.

“Human activities will continue to change the composition of the atmosphere,” Jarraud said. “WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch program will, therefore, continue its crucial monitoring, research and assessment activities to provide scientific data needed to understand and ultimately predict environmental changes, as it has done for the past 25 years.”

Researchers will present the report, dubbed the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014, in November, at the annual meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Paris. The full report, which is expected to inform policymakers, will be published in early 2015.