Skip to Content
Climate change

The ozone layer is thinning in places around the equator

February 6, 2018

The planet’s natural protection from UV radiation may be in danger over some of the world’s most populous areas.

Backstory: Huge ozone loss hit Earth in the 1980s, especially above Antarctica. The Montreal Protocol banned the chemicals that were responsible for the depletion, and ozone levels in the upper stratosphere grew again.

What’s new: In a paper published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, researchers explain that the ozone in the lower stratosphere is now thinning at lower latitudes. Near the equator, where billions of people live and sunlight is at its most intense, the resulting loss of UV protection could be a disaster.

What’s causing it? That’s still unclear. It may be that changes in atmospheric circulation due to global warming are shifting ozone toward the poles. Or some industrial chemicals once thought to safely break down in the lower atmosphere may, in fact, make their way high enough to account for the damage. 

Deep Dive

Climate change

China’s heat wave is creating havoc for electric vehicle drivers

The country is a leader in EV adoption, but extreme weather is exposing weaknesses in its charging infrastructure.

We must fundamentally rethink “net-zero” climate plans. Here are six ways.

Corporate climate plans are too often a mix of fuzzy math, flawed assumptions, and wishful thinking.

This is what’s keeping electric planes from taking off

Batteries could power planes, but weight will limit how far they fly.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.