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By OzonAction UNEP-DTIE on Thu, 10 Nov 2011 14:35:23 GMT

Source NASA - While the Montreal Protocol began the process of closing one chapter of the ozone story, the ozone layer still requires careful monitoring because other substances in the atmosphere – including climate-altering greenhouse gases – can also affect it. In the Q & A below, NASA Goddard atmospheric scientist Paul Newman offers his perspective on why the ozone story isn’t over, and how climate change will likely impact the evolution of the ozone layer in the future. "It’s important to continue monitoring ozone because it’s so vital to life on Earth", said Paul Newman. "Surface measurements and satellite observations confirm that ozone isn’t declining in our atmosphere anymore, so the Montreal Protocol is working. But ozone is impacted by many factors, not just CFCs. The Earth’s natural variations – like volcanic emissions, climate change, and the sun – can all impact ozone. Also, technological innovations like high-altitude aircraft or industrial chemicals can also impact it. So the ozone story isn’t over. It’s evolving", he added.

To see daily updates on the health of the ozone layer, go to Ozone Hole Watch.
By OzonAction UNEP-DTIE on Tue, 08 Nov 2011 17:45:45 GMT

Source CBC News - Three leading Canadian atmospheric scientists are urging MPs and senators to think very carefully before they agree to cuts to ozone monitoring in Canada - an international leader in ozone monitoring. Scientists discovered a hole in the Arctic's ozone layer for the first time in March and have been trying to understand why the hole has appeared.

Prof. Thomas Duck, an expert in polar atmospheric research at Dalhousie University in Halifax, along with professors Gordon Shepherd, an expert in earth and space science from Toronto's York University, and Kaley Walker, one of the scientists who discovered the Arctic ozone hole, told the parliamentarians that possible cuts to Environment Canada could hinder Canada's ability to monitor changes to the ozone layer. Duck said the majority of questions from politicians at the breakfast were about the ozone hole. "I think a major thing that was learned is that the issue of ozone depletion is not a solved problem, said Duck. "We certainly understand a lot of things, but the discovery of the Arctic ozone hole really came as a surprise, it was not anticipated ... and this past March and April there it was." Scientists don't really know why the Arctic ozone hole appeared. They think it could be linked to climate change, where warmer temperatures near the ground keep temperatures colder in the upper atmosphere. Those cold temperatures mixed with some chemicals destroy the ozone.

Canada is an international leader in ozone monitoring. Environment Canada scientists invented crucial instruments that are used worldwide to measure ozone. They also invented the UV index which indicates the strength of the sun's rays. It's now used by 30 countries around the world. This country also played host to the Montreal protocol in 1987, where 192 countries agreed to eliminate CFCs, industrial chemicals that destroy the ozone.

By OzonAction UNEP-DTIE on Wed, 26 Oct 2011 09:08:59 GMT

Source BBC NEWS, article written by Richard Black - China will not allow its carbon dioxide emissions per person to reach levels seen in the US, according to the minister in charge of climate policy.

Xie Zhenhua, vice chair of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that to let emissions rise that high would be a "disaster for the world". Chinese per-capita emissions may reach US levels by 2017, a recent study said. Mr Xie was speaking during a visit to the UK that explored co-operation on clean energy and climate issues. It included signing a Memorandum of Understanding with UK Energy and Climate Secretary Chris Huhne on areas for joint research. Mr Xie, speaking to a group of UK parliamentarians, said China would not "follow the path of the US" and allow per-capita emissions to rise that high. "We are making efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon intensity is decreasing," he said. "We want to reach the peak as soon as possible." Read the full article on: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15444858

By OzonAction UNEP-DTIE on Mon, 03 Oct 2011 14:34:00 GMT

A huge hole that appeared in the Earth's protective ozone layer above the Arctic in 2011 was the largest recorded in the northern hemisphere. This 2 million square kilometre Arctic hole is similar to the hole over the Antarctic, researchers write in the journal Nature, released yesterday.

"The chemical ozone destruction over the Arctic in early 2011 was, for the first time in the observational record, comparable to that in the Antarctic ozone hole," say the scientists, led by Gloria Manney of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

It is thought global warming could be responsible for some of the damage because greenhouse gases trap energy at lower altitude, heating up the atmosphere nearer the ground but cooling the stratosphere, creating conditions for the formation of chemicals that break apart oxygen molecules of ozone.

By OzonAction UNEP-DTIE on Thu, 22 Sep 2011 11:33:33 GMT

As the world waits for a dead NASA satellite to come crashing through the earth's atmosphere sometime this afternoon, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who worked the mission remember it as a pioneering one. Twenty years ago this month, astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery used the spacecraft’s robotic arm to launch the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) into orbit around the Earth. Armed with ten instruments, UARS was designed to observe key chemical constituents of the stratosphere and upper atmosphere, and to decipher how sunlight warms the air and provokes changes in that chemistry.

UARS is perhaps best remembered for studies of the ozone layer and Antarctic ozone hole, particularly the role of chlorine, halocarbons, and nitrous oxides in ozone depletion. The satellite also was perfectly positioned to observe the transport of volcanic aerosols and the cooling of the atmosphere in the wake of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Many long-term climate records—such as measurements of solar radiation and greenhouse gases—were started or continued by the UARS mission.

By OzonAction UNEP-DTIE on Wed, 21 Sep 2011 13:48:10 GMT

Source: The Canadian Press - Environment Canada is admitting that a large chunk of its ozone-monitoring program is being cut, but insists that its capacity to measure the earth's protective layer of gas won't be hurt. The department has two separate technologies that measure ozone, but budget cuts will mean that the two separate networks won't be maintained, explained Karen Dodds, assistant deputy minister of the science and technology branch. Rather, the networks will be "consolidated and streamlined" in an effort to make sure the best technology is focused in the most appropriate area, Dodds said. "What we are doing is looking at what is the best mix," she told Canadian Press in an interview. In the past, when ozone research was young, Canadian experts explored and developed the merits of both technologies. But now, the ins and outs of measuring ozone are well known and there is no longer a need to have two sets of measurement technology, she said.

By OzonAction UNEP-DTIE on Sun, 10 Jul 2011 16:14:57 GMT

Significant strides have been made towards the Millennium Development Goals, yet reaching all the goals by the 2015 deadline remains challenging, as the world's poorest are being left behind, according to the MDG Report 2011, the UN's annual progress report. "The MDGs have helped lift millions of people out of poverty, save countless children's lives and ensure that they attend school," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "At the same time, we still have a long way to go in empowering women and girls, promoting sustainable development, and protecting the most vulnerable." Read the press materials here.

The UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2011was launched in Geneva on 7 July 2011. Goal 7 Part - Ensure environmental sustainability made mention of the Montreal Protocol. Indeed, The Montreal Protocol is not only helping to restore the ozone layer, but to curb climate change. "The Montreal Protocol is an undisputed—but still unfinished—success story. Much more work remains to be done to ensure the protection of the ozone layer for this and future generations. Still, what the parties to the Protocol have managed to accomplish since 1987 is unprecedented, providing an example of what international cooperation at its best can achieve. As of end-2009, the consumption of 98 per cent of all ozone-depleting substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol had been phased out. Global observations have verified that atmospheric concentrations of such substances are declining. With full implementation of the Protocol’s provisions, the ozone layer is expected to return to its pre-1980 levels around the middle of this century. The Protocol has also delivered substantial climate benefits, since ozone-depleting substances are also global-warming gases. The reduction in such substances between 1990, when they reached peak levels, and 2000 has yielded a net reduction of about 25 billion tonnes equivalent of CO2-weighted global- warming gasses."

By OzonAction UNEP-DTIE on Tue, 05 Jul 2011 00:42:38 GMT

Mahe, Seychelles 23 June 2011- Some African countries have reported recent cases of illegal trade in Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) shipped from the Gulf Coast. 

During a meeting arranged by the UNEP OzonAction Programme’s Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP) through the Regional Office of Africa for 24 English speaking and Portuguese speaking countries participants were made aware of the ODS smuggling from presentations by delegates from Gambia and Sudan. Most of the smuggling cases presented were attempted to be imported by mislabeling the chemicals as non-controlled commodities. The customs officers were able to seize the shipments since they have been provided with training, are aware of the relevant licensing systems and are equipped with ODS identifiers. It was reported that shipments of cylinders labeled as R-134a (a non-ozone depleting alterative) in fact contained CFC-12 and in some cases mixture of several gases also including HCFC.

By OzonAction UNEP-DTIE on Sun, 05 Jun 2011 10:25:36 GMT

India for the first time this year served as global host of the United Nations' World Environment Day June 5, marking the occasion with a week-long series of events across the country - walkathons, treeplanting and a green marketplace, films and art, and a seminar honoring the role of women in environmental protection.

The events all had a forest theme in keeping with this International Year of Forests.

India's Environment and Forests Minister Shri Jairam Ramesh chaired a one day seminar on "Nature and Livelihood: Women's Perspective" in New Delhi. He noted that "conservation of forests is crucial for sustainable development and green economy of the country," and added that women are "crucial" for forest conservation.

About 100 women from civil society organizations across the country shared their attempts to protect forests during interactive sessions with eminent environmentalists and grassroots leaders.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and UN Resident Co-ordinator for India Patrice Couer Bizot highlighted the environmental concerns in the global perspective and praised the initiatives of women leaders at grassroots level in India in environmental awareness and forest conservation.

By OzonAction UNEP-DTIE on Tue, 24 May 2011 16:20:19 GMT

On May, 12, 2011, diplomats from eight Arctic countries met in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland to set down rules for opening the region to fishing, tourism, oil and mineral exploration as global warming melts the ice.

The representatives signed an Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, which the US State Department said is the first binding international agreement among the eight states of the Arctic Council, which was founded in 1996

"We're going to raise the visibility of Arctic issues,"  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, speaking to reporters on a boat tour in a fjord of Greenland's tiny capital.

"The opportunities for economic development in the Arctic must be weighed against the need to protect its environment and ecosystems," Clinton told her counterparts from the Arctic Council.

She warned pollutants such as black carbon, methane and hydro fluorocarbons, so-called short lived climate forcers, were a problem that needed more attention as they contribute to the faster-than-average rate of warming in the Arctic.

"While most of the world's black carbon is created elsewhere, there are things we can do in the Arctic to mitigate its warming effects," Clinton said. "The United States has already committed $5 million toward an Arctic Black Carbon Initiative to address Arctic emissions," she said.

Due to rising temperatures, summer ice around the Arctic may soon disappear, devastating the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and threatening polar bears and other polar mammals.

But it could also increase access for shipping, mining and oil and gas exploration and countries including Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia have already staked claims in the region. Last week, a new international study projected that an accelerated melt of Arctic ice would cause world sea levels to rise by three to five feet by 2100, more than previously projected. That sparked calls by Nordic nations for more action to slow climate change and more focus on the Arctic in sluggish UN negotiations on a global deal.