Ozone Layer Depletion

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Ozone Layer Depletion

Ozone Layer Depletion


In this paper, we would discuss the environmental problem related to the depletion of ozone layer and its impact on the environment and global world. The paper would also address the action which is being taken against the issue in reference to the research. Furthermore, the paper would also help in educating others towards the problem and suggest measures taken against this problem.

Ozone Layer overview

The ozone layer is an area of the stratosphere that contains a high concentration of ozone (O3), which shields the Earth from excessive harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. In the mid 1980s, scientists discovered that the Earth's protective ozone layer was thinning over Antarctica, sometimes called a hole in the ozone layer (Toyota, Barrie, 2008).

The size of the Antarctic ozone hole expands and contracts seasonally, and larger than normal holes or gaps do appear, but the ongoing recovery of the "hole" in Earth's ozone layer is arguably one of the more successful stories of environmental science.

Ozone (O3) is an oxygen molecule that is less stable than the diatomic oxygen (O2) that makes up 21 percent of Earth's atmosphere. Although comparatively rare, ozone plays a key role in climate and the biosphere. Ozone in the stratosphere, the layer of air 6-30 miles (10-50 kilometers) above Earth's surface was discovered in 1913 (Charlton, Polvani, 2007). The ozone layer does not consist entirely of ozone but is a region where ozone molecules are more numerous than elsewhere. Ozone in the stratosphere is created by sunlight acting on O2. Most ozone in the troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere, is created by sunlight acting on pollution from the burning of fossil fuels.

Ozone is poisonous to plants and animals, yet in the stratosphere (the second-highest layer of the atmosphere) it acts as a shield against ultraviolet light from the sun, which can cause sunburn, blindness, and cancer, although in small amounts it is an essential helper to vitamin D formation in the skin. The stratospheric ozone layer blocks almost 99 percent of solar ultraviolet radiation (Ridley, et al, 2003).

Changes in stratospheric and tropospheric (lower-altitude) ozone have both affected climate, but in opposite ways. Decreases in stratospheric ozone caused by industrial pollution have tended to cool Earth, while ozone in the troposphere, itself a pollutant, has increased, helping the planet to warm. Decreased stratospheric ozone is also having important indirect effects on climate by changing wind and ocean circulation patterns near Antarctica.

In 1928, however, a refrigerant chemical dubbed Freon was invented, the first of many chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs, so called because they consist of the elements chlorine, fluorine, and carbon) and related chlorine-containing compounds (Charlton, Polvani, 2007). Freon and its chemical relatives quickly replaced other chemicals that had previously been used in refrigerators, and later were used in air conditioning.

Many thousands of tons of the new substances were emitted into the atmosphere during following decades. Ozone in the stratosphere is created by the action of ultraviolet light on ...