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BIRA-IASB monitors effect of Montreal Protocol

The stratospheric ozone layer protects the Earth’s biosphere from a large part of the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the Sun. Appearing in the beginning of the 1980s, two spectacular phenomena demonstrated that certain human activities threatened this natural protection against ultraviolet rays:

    1. the destruction of almost all of the ozone in the lower Antarctic stratosphere each spring
    2. the destruction of 3% each decade of the ozone layer at our latitudes

Bromine monoxide

In September 1987, the Montreal Protocol was established in reaction to these alarming discoveries.

It has since been regulating the production and use of many chemical substances that release, in the stratosphere, chlorine and bromine, which are responsible for the ozone destruction.


Monitoring stratospheric ozone and the substances controlling its concentration is one of the missions of the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB). The measurements the Institute makes from satellites and observational networks enable to:

  • check the enforcement and effects of the Montreal Protocol
  • discover new phenomena
  • improve and validate predictive atmospheric composition models


Bromine monoxideThanks to these models, we can explore our future stratosphere and its interactions with the climate.

They help the international community to knowingly take decisions, like for instance to freeze the HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) gas production in 2013.

These gases are now used as substitutes for the CFC’s (chlorofluorocarbons), which are less ozone destructive but more dreadful as greenhouse gases.



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