Satellite studies reveal that smoke from Australian wildfires two years ago had an impact on the barrier that protects the Earth from dangerous UV rays. Bushfires were discovered to be so powerful that smoke soared into the atmosphere, creating a chain of chemical reactions that resulted in ozone loss. The scientists projected a 1% reduction in total ozone in March 2020 alone. They warned that this could halt recent progress toward banning chemicals that degrade the ozone layer. The ozone layer is recovering at a rate of roughly 1% per decade at mid-latitudes. Wildfire damage will significantly hinder development, according to the study’s lead author, Prof Susan Solomon of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.

Prof. Clare Murphy (Paton-Walsh) of the University of Wollongong commented on the study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She said ozone loss was likely to be repeated during intense fire episodes, which are expected to increase with climate change in the coming decades. “Any slowdown in the recovery of ozone in the mid-latitudes will increase the overall exposure to UV-radiation for Australians and hence may impact the occurrence of skin cancers in future,” she said.