OZONE LAYER SIGNIFICANCE AND DEPLETION
OZONE LAYER SIGNIFICANCE
Ozone Layer is a deep layer in earth’s atmosphere that contain ozone which is a naturally occurring molecule containing three oxygen atoms. The ozone layer prevents most harmful wavelengths of Ultraviolet (UV) light from passing through the Earth’s Atmosphere.
OZONE LAYER DEPLETION
Ozone depletion, gradual thinning of Earth’s ozone layer in the upper atmosphere caused by the release of chemical compounds containing gaseous chlorine or bromine from industry and other human activities. The thinning is most pronounced in the polar regions. Ozone depletion is a major environmental problem because it increases the amount of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation that reaches Earth’s surface, which increases the rate of skin cancer, eye cataracts, and genetic and immune system damage.
The main cause of ozone depletion and the ozone hole is manufactured chemicals, especially manufactured halocarbon refrigerants, solvents, propellants, and foam- blowing agents (chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)), referred to as ozone-depleting substances (ODS). These compounds are transported into the stratosphere by turbulent mixing after being emitted from the surface. Once in the stratosphere, they release atoms from the halogen group through photodissociation, which catalyze the breakdown of ozone (O3) into oxygen (O2). Both types of ozone depletion were observed to increase as emissions of halocarbons increased.
Ozone depletion and the ozone hole have generated worldwide concern over increased cancer risks and other negative effects. The ozone layer prevents most harmful wavelengths of Ultraviolet (UV) light from passing through the Earth’s Surface. These wavelengths cause skin cancer, sunburn, permanent blindness, and cataracts, which were projected to increase dramatically as a result of thinning ozone, as well as harming plants and animals. These concerns led to the adoption of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, which bans the production of CFCs, halons, and other ozone-depleting chemicals.
The ban came into effect in 1989. Ozone levels stabilized by the mid-1990s and began to recover in the 2000s. Recovery is projected to continue over the next century, and the ozone hole is expected to reach pre-1980 levels by around 2075. In 2019, NASA reported that the ozone hole was the smallest ever since it was first discovered in 1982.
The Montreal Protocol is considered the most successful international environmental agreement to date.