May 12, 2021 1 min, 0 secs

Humanity’s enormous emissions of greenhouse gases are shrinking the stratosphere, a new study has revealed.

The shrinking stratosphere is a stark signal of the climate emergency and the planetary-scale influence that humanity now exerts, according to Juan Añel, at the University of Vigo, Ourense in Spain and part of the research team.

The ozone layer that absorbs UV rays from the sun is in the stratosphere and researchers had thought ozone losses in recent decades could be to blame for the shrinking.

But the new research shows it is the rise of CO2 that is behind the steady contraction of the stratosphere, not ozone levels, which started to rebound after the 1989 Montreal treaty banned CFCs.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, reached its conclusions using the small set of satellite observations taken since the 1980s in combination with multiple climate models, which included the complex chemical interactions that occur in the atmosphere.

Prof Paul Williams, at the University of Reading in the UK, who was not involved in the new research, said: “This study finds the first observational evidence of stratosphere contraction and shows that the cause is in fact our greenhouse gas emissions rather than ozone.”.

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