OZONE LAYER DEPLETION
The ozone layer is one of the most important aspects of our planet, it is what gives up protection from the harsh chemicals released into the atmosphere every day. In many ways, the ozone layer acts as a shield allowing an escape in order for deadly chemicals to not bounce back and cause detrimental effects on all living organisms including plants, animals, and mankind. With the ozone layer being of such importance to life on earth’s existence it is of the utmost importance to understand what damages the ozone layer and is causing its recent increase in depletion. With the ozone layer depleting at such a rapid rate we are beginning to witness its harmful and severe effects and even without notice, it is impacting not only our quality of life but the entire ability of life on earth to even exist.
WHAT IS OZONE DEPLETION?
So what is the definition of ozone depletion? Ozone depletion in the simplest of terms is the steady thinning of the ozone layer which is situated in the upper part of the atmosphere. The ozone layer is an area or region that exists in the stratosphere, it contains high amounts of ozone as per its name and thus is a protective layer that prevents the earth from experiencing the harsh effects of ultraviolet radiation. Ozone layer depletion is when parts of this protective shield so say begins to gradually thin and disintegrate, in turn, this is taking away from the amount of protection it can provide to us and all living organisms present on earth. This thinning of the ozone layer known as depletion comes as a result of many causes which will be explained further in this article however they all contribute to specific chemical reactions that when experienced in large amounts destroy the ozone molecules that make up our ozone layer.
HOW IS OZONE DESTROYED?
So how is ozone depleted? The destruction of the ozone layer and the depletion of ozone layers comes as a result of chlorine and bromine atoms that when coming into contact with the ozone found in the stratosphere are too powerful and thus cancel out the ozone molecules causing them to be destroyed. Chlorine and bromine atoms are extremely powerful, and just one chlorine atom can destroy around one hundred thousand ozone molecules before being released through the earth’s atmosphere. This is a major issue as it means that the ozone layer cannot repair itself fast enough to withstand the effects of the chlorine and bromine atoms which in turn causes ozone the depletion we witness today. These types of chemicals are what are known as ozone-depleting substances and they are emitted by us on earth and eventually sent through the atmosphere and into the stratosphere. The process of this depletion may take anywhere between 2-5 years but with the drastic effect, we begin to notice the depletion of the ozone layer even though it is quite a gradual process.
WHAT CAUSES THE DEPLETION OF THE OZONE LAYER?
So what are the causes of ozone depletion? There are many things that contribute towards the ozone depletion we are currently experiencing and they all help us to understand the answer to why is the ozone layer depleting? Some of the causes of ozone layer depletion include
Chlorofluorocarbons otherwise known as CFCs are the main cause of our ozone depletion. This type of chemical is released by-products such as aerosol cans, refrigerators, air conditioners, and many other products especially those used in households and larger manufacturing buildings. The real problem with such chemicals is the way they mix with the ultraviolet radiation released by the sun. When the ultraviolet radiation breaks down the CFCs chlorine atoms are released which then react with ozone molecules and eventually destroy them.
Unregulated Rocket Launches
Rocket launches themselves have a huge effect on ozone depletion, and when they are not controlled they are responsible for an extremely large amount of the ozone layer depletion we see today, scientists even admit that this could be of a greater effect than that of CFCs.
Nitrogenous compounds include NO2, NO, N2O, which are released into the atmosphere and are great contributors to the overall depletion of the ozone layer experienced today.
Ofocrse along with the chemicals released the ozone actually depletes naturally as part of the cycle of the planet, some natural processes including sun spots, volcanic eruptions, and stratospheric winds contribute to ozone layer depletion, however, this amount is extremely minimal in comparison to the chemical reactions.
OZONE DEPLETION IN THE STRATOSPHERE IS WHAT TYPE OF PROBLEM?
We have already answered the question why is the ozone layer thinning? We understand what is happening to the ozone layer, but what about the effect this depletion has on our environment, nature, and mankind? Ozone depletion has many severe effects some of which include
The more the ozone layer depletes the harsher the effects of the ultraviolet radiation of the sun. Harmful exposure to ultraviolet traditions can cause some severe health problems including skin cancer, skin diseases, severe sunburns, cataracts, and rapid aging as well as a weakened immune system and in some cases fatigue.
Just like humans animals are also affected by the sun’s ultraviolet traditions and as a result can cause eye cancer, diseases, mutations, and developmental issues.
The effects of ultraviolet rays on the environment mean that it becomes increasingly difficult for flora and fauna to grow and reproduce. It also has a major effect on the photosynthesis process and can leave many areas of forested land dry and barren.
Even those under the sea are affected by ozone depletion, planktons which are an imperative part of the marine life food chain are heavily affected by ultraviolet rays and as they are high in the food chain if they are to be destroyed, those under it in the food chain will be affected too.
HOW MUCH HAS THE OZONE LAYER DEPLETED?
Is the ozone layer depleting? It’s no question that the ozone layer has already been somewhat depleted and is still currently depleting but as of today it has been depleted by 5-6 percent and although this number may seem small it is in fact quite large and its effects have already been felt by the increase in climate change and global warming experienced all over the world. Saying this, however, this number has bounced back in recent years, where scientists have recorded a rebound that is hopeful for the future of our planet.
OZONE DEPLETION FACTS
Some interesting facts about the ozone layer depletion include
- Ozone is a highly reactive gas.
- The ozone layer is known as Ozonosphere.
- The ozone layer is situated about 15-35 km above the earth’s surface.
- Scientists have estimated that we only have about 48 years to recover the ozone hole before it destroys our planet.
- You can help save the ozone layer by reducing, reusing, and recycling.
- Planting more trees and conserving energy will help contribute to rebuilding the ozone layer and preventing further depletion and damage.
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