The Ozone layer hole has been at its smallest since 1988, according to the latest National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA satellite observations.
"In the past, we've always seen ozone at some stratospheric altitudes go to zero by the end of September," Bryan Johnson, NOAA atmospheric chemist, told Eco Watch. "This year our balloon measurements showed the ozone loss rate stalled by the middle of September and ozone levels never reached zero."
The Ozone hole that was measured on Sept.11, at its annual peak, is still quite large, measuring nearly 19.6 million square kilometers, twice the size of the United States. But has shrunk since 1991 when the hole measured about 26 million square kilometers.
The ozone shield in Earth's stratosphere layer absorbs sun's harmful UV rays, that can cause skin cancer. The alarming discovery of the hole in the ozone layer was first made in the early 1980's but since the discovery, worldwide efforts to discontinue the use of items that produce the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons commonly found in air-conditioning, refrigeration, and aerosol-spray propellants has helped the cause. One of the most noted is the Montreal Declaration of 1987, where several countries came together to sign a pact to preserve the Ozone layer.
"It's really small this year. That's a good thing," Paul Newman, the chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement.
But NASA pointed out that the shrinking might not be a sign of healing.
"The smaller ozone hole extent in 2017 is due to natural variability and not necessarily a signal of rapid healing," NASA noted.
Further adding, the unstable and warmer Antarctic vortex attributed to the minimizing of the polar stratospheric clouds, precursors to the chlorine- and bromine reactions that destroy the ozone.