“It’s a big surprise. I didn’t think it would be this early,” said lead author Susan Solomon, an atmospheric chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an interview with Science magazine.
The researchers said that the trend towards recovery became apparent when they studied the required measurements in the month of September, not October.
“I think people, myself included, had been too focused on October, because that’s when the ozone hole is enormous. But October is also subject to the slings and arrows of other things that vary, like slight changes in meteorology,” said Solomon.
The ozone hole was first discovered in the 1950s. “We can now be confident that the things we’ve done have put the planet on a path to heal,” said Solomon.