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Fact Check: Is Earth's Ozone Layer Healing? What Is The Effect Of Lockdown On Ozone Layer?

Here is a fact check on whether Earth's ozone layer has started to heal itself due to the current lockdown in many parts of the world due to COVID-19.

fact check

Claim: Ozone layer has started healing due to lockdown

Rating: False

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What is the rumour about?

  • Scientific experts revealed that the ozone layer has started to get better due to the current lockdown in major parts of the world.
  • Many images, including wild animals strolling on the streets, have been circulating all over the social media as human activity as decreased due to the lockdown. 

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Who started the rumour?

  • Social media users

  • Ever since the pictures of swans returning to Venice waters and animals strolling in the middle of the streets were shared. It is likely that people credited the current ozone restoration to the lockdown as well.
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Image courtesy: Twitter

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Google Trends 

After an analysis of the Google Trends with respect to the ozone layer healing rumour, one can see that the people have been hugely interested to know whether the ozone layer has started healing due to lockdown. The maximum number of searches have been done on March 28, 2020. 

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Image courtesy: Google Trends 

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Republic World did a fact check on the "ozone layer healing" rumour

  • Republic World did a fact check on the "ozone layer healing" and found it to be False. 
  • A paper that was published on March 24 in a prestigious journal has cited the Montreal Protocol for the apparent restoration of the ozone layer. 
  • An article published in Nature Journal titled "A pause in Southern Hemisphere circulation trends due to the Montreal Protocol" talked about the ozone layer restoration. Take a look at the snapshot from the article.
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Image courtesy: Nature website

  • The study also states that with this rate of ozone restoration, it might be possible that the complete ozone hole gets healed in the near future.
  • Montreal Protocol was actually a treaty that was signed between 197 countries in order to minimize the use of ozone-depleting substances (ODS).
  • These ODS included substances like the emissions from refrigerators and air conditioners, industrial solvents and many more. 
  • It was reported that the environment had recorded less number of ODS since the year 2000, due to the combined effect of all the countries cutting down on their use of ODS.
  • Even though the fact that the lockdown is surely showing some promising signs of nature restoring itself, the restoration of the ozone layer is the result of the Montreal Protocol that took place in 1987. 

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Image courtesy: Ozone watch website

  • Here is an image of Earth's ozone layer (over the Antarctic pole) taken on March 31 where the layer thickness is represented using false colours.
  • The regions that show yellow and red colours represent more ozone while the blues and purple represent the least ozone thickness. 
  • Currently, the maximum areas over Antarctica appear to be shown in green and yellow which seems to be under the normal range of the ozone layer thickness as mentioned in the colour scale on the Ozone watch website.
  • However major parts are still shown in blue colour which means that the restoration has a long path to go before the Earth's ozone layer gets completely restored. 

What the lead author of the Nature article has to say about her research?

  • A CIRES Visiting Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder, who works at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Antara Banerjee stated that substantial climate changes in the southern hemisphere of the Earth were observed recently. 
  • The air circulation patterns in the southern hemisphere of Earth were observed due to the shrinking of the ozone hole since the Montreal Protocol had been implemented. 
  • The jet stream of the southern hemisphere that was seen to be shifting towards the south pole was found to have stopped since the year 2000. Experts are also expecting the jet stream movement to get reversed. 
  • She added that the importance of the position of this jet stream is important as due to this, different parts of the world face different kinds of impact with respect to climate change. 

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Is there any rumour you want Republic World to do a fact check on? Do you have facts about a rumour? Share your pictures or videos with Republic World on contact@republicworld.com or comment on this story itself. 

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