Before we knew about human-caused climate change, the human-caused hole in the ozone layer was one of the greatest ecological disasters we had ever seen.
Thanks to ozone mapping technology that began in the 1970s, scientists found that our atmosphere was thinning. The culprit turned out to be chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that were used in refrigerants and aerosols beginning in the 1920s. As CFCs made their way up into the atmosphere, they stripped away oxygen atoms from ozone (O3) molecules in the stratosphere. Ultimately, this thinning caused a "hole" over Antarctica roughly 8 million square miles in size (more than twice the land area of the United States), with 2015 seeing the hole at its largest.
Thankfully, scientists think the hole will never be that large again. In fact, it could be healed completely by the end of the century.
As DNews explains, the chemical reaction responsible for thinning the ozone layer doesn't go on indefinitely. Because CFCs and other harmful substances were banned in 1989, we're finally seeing the end of their damage, and the ozone layer is able to heal itself.
While it's fantastic news that one of mankind's biggest environmental follies is being corrected, the story gets more complicated because the ozone layer creates a greenhouse effect.
Learn how the shrinking ozone layer could impact climate change here:
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