Mending the ozone to worsen climate change: Study

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London, Jun 14 (UNI) Ozone depletion is halting, seasonal tear of the layer is shrinking and ozone hole is in the process of closing.

Sounds like a reason for nature lovers to celebrate? But atmospheric scientists have cautioned in a new study published in Science that sewing up the rift in the ozone layer might exacerbate another environmental woe: climate change.

Decades of chemical pollution have damaged the ozone layer that shields Earth from the harmful effects of the sun's ultraviolet rays. But since 1996, when Montreal Protocol banned chemical refrigerants and propellants (known as CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons), scientists predict the ozone layer may stop depleting by the end of this century.

However, the new study revealed that closing the gash might affect the flow of winds known as the westerlies around Antarctica, which impact everything from the extent of sea ice to the location of deserts in the Southern Hemisphere.

Scientific studies and mathematical models developed for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that global warming has shifted these winds toward the poles, altering weather patterns throughout the Southern Hemisphere.

The new research shows that mending the ozone could speed warming in Antarctica and the globe.

''Our results suggest that stratospheric ozone is important for the Southern Hemisphere climate change, and ought to be more carefully considered in the next set of IPCC model integrations,'' lead author Seok-Woo Son said.

''We were surprised to find that the closing of the ozone hole, which is expected to occur in the next 50 years or so, shows significant effects on the global climate,'' researcher Lorenzo M Polvani said, adding, ''This is because stratospheric ozone has not been considered a major player in the climate system.'' UNI XC SYU SSC1221

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