The Ozone Layer

Topics: Ozone depletion, Ozone layer, Ozone Pages: 3 (1014 words) Published: February 6, 2014
Ozone is one of the greenhouses gases that exist within our atmosphere. It is a triatomic molecule made up of three oxygen atoms. Ozone consists in low concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere, taking up only 0.6 parts per million of it. These gases absorb some of the harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun and prevent it from reaching the Earth’s surface. It has been thought that the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere has been a primary cause of climate change, but this is not entirely true. Changes in the ozone layer have a significant effect on climate change, but it is small in comparison to the contribution of all the other greenhouse gases.

The cause of ozone depletion seems to be the existence of a group of artificially manufactured chemicals called “ozone-depleting substances,” or “ODS.” ODS are extremely stable, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly in the lower atmosphere, which explains why they are very popular for use in products by humans. They cause harm, however, when they go up into the stratosphere. Their stability allows them to float up intact. Once they are in the stratosphere, they become broken apart by ultraviolent light, which releases the chlorine and bromine in them. Chlorine and bromine are capable of destroying ozone at a very fast rate by removing an atom from an ozone molecule. They are very effective in destroying ozone because a single molecule of chlorine could break of thousands of molecules of ozone. Even worse is the fact that ODS have a long lifetime in our atmosphere. ODS that we have released within the past 80 years are still making their way into the stratosphere to add to ozone destruction. The main ODS are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Halons (brominated fluorocarbons). CFCs cause over 80% of the total stratospheric ozone depletion, making it the most widely used ODS. CFCs are often used as coolants in refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners in buildings and cars made before 1995. They are also found in...
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