Thinning of Ozon Layer

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  • Topic: Ozone depletion, Chlorofluorocarbon, Montreal Protocol
  • Pages : 2 (479 words )
  • Download(s) : 55
  • Published : May 9, 2013
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ozone layer or ozonosphere, region of the stratosphere containing relatively high concentrations of ozone, located at altitudes of 12-30 mi (19-48 km) above the earth's surface. Ozone in the ozone layer is formed by the action of solar ultraviolet light on oxygen. The ozone layer prevents most ultraviolet (UV) and other high-energy radiation from penetrating to the earth's surface but does allow through sufficient ultraviolet rays to support the activation of vitamin D in humans. The full radiation, if unhindered by this filtering effect, would destroy animal tissue. Higher levels of radiation resulting from the depletion of the ozone layer have been linked with increases in skin cancers and cataracts and have been implicated in the decline of certain amphibian species. In 1974 scientists warned that certain industrial chemicals, e.g., chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and to a lesser extent, halons and carbon tetrachloride, could migrate to the stratosphere. There, sunlight could free the chlorine or bromine atoms to form chlorine monoxide or other chemicals, which would deplete upper-atmospheric ozone. A seasonal decrease, or "hole," discovered in 1985 in the ozone layer above Antarctica was the first confirmation of a thinning of the layer. The hole occurs over Antarctica because the extreme cold helps the very high clouds characteristic of that area form tiny ice particles of water and nitric acid, which facilitate the chemical reactions involved. In addition, the polar winds, which follow a swirling pattern, create a confined vortex, trapping the chemicals. When the Antarctic spring sun rises in August or September and hits the trapped chemicals, a chain reaction begins in which chlorine, bromine (from the halons), and ice crystals react with the ozone and destroy it very quickly. The effect usually lasts through November. There is a corresponding hole over the Arctic that similarly appears in the spring,...
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