Someone is poking the ozone layer

Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 on

Three years back, in 2016, we celebrated the healing of the ozone layer. Changing shapes from a medu vada to a dosa, this stratospheric layer went through thick and thin. A hole made by punitive human progress was mended collectively by everyone around the world in an effort to save humanity from the sun’s UV radiation. Pointing fingers would have punctured the layer, even more, we realized. With our primal survival instincts awakened, we had unanimously come together on a decisive moment in the year 1987 to ban chemicals causing the layer to grow a hole in it. We called it the Montreal Protocol.  Victory, we thought. But someone did poke a finger in it after all.

According to a new study published May 22, 2019, 40 to 60 percent of global CFC-11 emissions originated from eastern mainland China. It’s almost as if someone in China is trying to draw a panda onto the ozone layer, I imagine. The data comes from an experiment that started out in 1978, the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE), with its predecessors the Atmospheric Life Experiment, ALE, and the Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment, GAGE. Globally positioned stations measure the composition of the global atmosphere including ozone-depleting substances (ODS). The experiment continues to date and is pointing to potential new holes.

All the graphs below show an upward trend in atmospheric concentrations of ozone-depleting substances. There is more data that shows a similar trend for other gases. With the climate crisis upon us, this data just adds more fuel to the fire.


(1) Prinn, R.G.; Weiss, R.F.; Arduini, J.; Arnold, T.; Fraser, P.J.; Ganesan, A.L.; Gasore, J.; Harth, C.M.; Hermansen, O.; Kim, J.; Krummel, P. B.; Li, S.; Loh, Z.M.; Lunder, C.R.; Maione, M.; Manning, A.J.; Miller, B.R.; Mitrevski, B.; Mühle, J.; O’Doherty, S.; Park, S.; Reimann, S.; Rigby, M.; Salameh, P.K.; Schmidt, R.; Simmonds, P.G.; Steele, L.P.; Vollmer, M.K.; Wang, R.H.; and Young, D.: The ALE/GAGE/AGAGE Data Base, or The ALE/GAGE/AGAGE Network (DB 1001), (

(2) Prinn, R.G., R.F. Weiss, J. Arduini, T. Arnold, H.L. DeWitt, P.J. Fraser, A.L. Ganesan, J. Gasore, C.M. Harth, O. Hermansen, J. Kim, P.B. Krummel, S. Li, Z. M. Loh, C.R. Lunder, M. Maione, A.J. Manning, B.R. Miller, B. Mitrevski, J. Mühle, S. O’Doherty, S. Park, S. Reimann, M. Rigby, T. Saito, P.K. Salameh, R. Schmidt, P.G.  Simmonds, L.P. Steele, M.K. Vollmer, R.H. Wang, B. Yao, Y. Yokouchi, D. Young, and L. Zhou: History of chemically and radiatively important atmospheric gases from the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE), Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10, 985-1018, 2018, Website:

(3) Most recent AGAGE paper publishing the relevant data, as listed on AGAGE Publications.

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