The Antarctic ozone hole, which was once regarded as one of the biggest environmental threats, is now steadily closing, but its repair could actually increase temperatures in the southern hemisphere, British scientists have claimed.
The researchers from the University of Leeds, who used a state-of-the-art global model of aerosols for the study, said high-speed winds in the area beneath the hole have led to the formation of brighter summertime clouds, which reflect more of the sun’s powerful rays.
“These clouds have acted like a mirror to the sun’s rays, reflecting the sun’s heat away from the surface to the extent that warming from rising carbon emissions has effectively been cancelled out in this region during the summertime,” said co-author Prof Ken Carslaw.
“If, as seems likely, these winds die down, rising CO2 emissions could then cause the warming of the southern hemisphere to accelerate, which would have an impact on future climate predictions,” he added.
A newly-discovered feedback showed that the hole has helped to shield this region from carbon-induced warming over the past two decades, the Science Daily reported.
The key to this feedback is aerosol — tiny reflective particles suspended within the air that are known by experts to have a huge impact on climate.