The ozone layer that shields life from cancer-causing solar rays is showing its first sign of recovery after years of dangerous depletion, a UN study said, in a rare piece of good news on the environment.
Experts said it was largely down to global action — a 1987 ban on man-made gases that damage the fragile high-altitude screen.
The agreement would help prevent millions of cases of skin cancer and other conditions, they added.
The ozone hole that appears over Antarctica has also stopped growing bigger every year, though it will be about a decade before it starts shrinking, said the report co-produced by the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Programme.
Past studies have also suggested the ozone layer has stopped getting worse. “For the first time we say that we see indications of a small increase in total ozone.
That means recovery of the ozone layer in terms of total ozone has just started,” the report said. The largest ozone hole on record was about 30 million square km in 2006.
The hole now covers about 20 million square km — big enough for the moon to pass through — but may not have peaked this season.
The size of the hole varies from year to year, partly due to temperature in the upper atmosphere.