Report Of Massive New Ozone Hole Threating Billions Contains ‘Serious Errors’

Report Of Massive New Ozone Hole Threating Billions Contains 'Serious Errors'

The mainstream narrative around the hole in the ozone layer of Earth’s atmosphere is that it is located primarily over Antarctica, was greatly exacerbated by industrial chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons, and that new regulations starting in the 1980s have helped control the threat.

But now a new study claims that a new, year-round ozone hole has been detected over Earth’s tropics, potentially exposing billions of people to higher doses of dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

“The existence of the tropical ozone hole may cause a great global concern,” says Qing-Bin Lu, a scientist from the University of Waterloo in Ontario. “The depletion of the ozone layer can lead to increased ground-level UV radiation, which can increase risk of skin cancer and cataracts in humans, as well as weaken human immune systems, decrease agricultural productivity, and negatively affect sensitive aquatic organisms and ecosystems. ”

All of this would be true, but the broader scientific community doesn’t seem to be buying Lu’s research, which was published this week in the journal AIP Advances.

“It contains a lot of reasoning with serious errors and unsubstantiated assertions, contradicting previous results that are substantiated,” says Dr. Marta Abalos Alvarez from the Complutense University of Madrid. “Ozone depletion in the tropics is nothing new and is mainly due to the acceleration of the Brewer-Dobson circulation.”

Tea Brewer–Dobson circulation is a well-known pattern of circulation in the atmosphere that moves ozone away from the tropics and toward the poles.

“The author’s identification of a ‘tropical ozone hole’ is down to him looking at percentage changes in ozone, rather than absolute changes, with the latter being much more relevant for damaging UV reaching the surface,” says Lancaster University’s Dr. Paul Young, a lead author of the 2022 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion from the World Meteorological Organization and United Nations.

Young notes that ozone levels in the stratosphere over the tropics have continued to decrease since the Montreal Protocol of 1987 phased out CFCs, but rejects the author’s notion of a new tropical ozone hole threatening the well-being of billions.

“The claim in this research of such large ozone changes in the tropics have not been apparent in other studies which makes me very suspicious,” adds Martyn Chipperfield, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Leeds. “Science should never depend on just one study and this new work needs careful verification before it can be accepted as fact.”

This one point that Lu agrees on, concluding:

“The present discovery calls for further careful studies of ozone depletion, UV radiation change, increased cancer risks, and other negative effects on health and ecosystems in the tropical regions.”


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