Ozone is an atmospheric contaminant that causes lung damage and asthma symptoms when it is present near the ground. Ozone molecules, however, safeguard life on Earth from 16-48 km above the surface. They aid in the protection of our planet from the destructive effects of solar radiation. Here we are going to discuss what is ozone layer, its formation and its depletion causes.
What is ozone gas?
Three oxygen atoms make up ozone, which is a highly reactive gas. It is a natural and man-made product that exists in the upper stratosphere and lower troposphere of the Earth. Ozone is a colorless gas with a strong chlorine-like odor. Ozone has a positive or negative impact on life on Earth depending on its location in the atmosphere. The chemical formula of ozone is O3.
What is ozone layer?
The ozone shield is a layer of the Earth’s stratosphere that absorbs the majority of UV radiation from the Sun, just like a sponge. It has high ozone concentrations in comparison to other sections of the atmosphere. Despite its high concentration, this layer’s concentration is still low in contrast to other gases in the stratosphere.
The ozone layer absorbs nearly all of the Sun’s medium-frequency ultraviolet light, which may otherwise harm life forms near the surface. Increased skin disorders are associated with ozone layer thinning. The ozone layer has been diminishing in recent decades due to the release of enormous amounts of man-made organohalogen chemicals, particularly chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and bromofluorocarbons. If the ozone layer fails to protect the world, life on the planet will be jeopardized.
About 90% of the ozone gas in the Earth system is located in the ozone layer. Ozone layer is present in the stratosphere. However, ozone makes up only one to ten molecules out of a million in the ozone layer. The rest of the molecules include air, consisting of nitrogen and oxygen. Although, there isn’t much of it, ozone is extremely powerful, capable of blocking even the most dangerous radiation coming from sun.
How is ozone formed?
Ozone is formed in the atmosphere when the sun’s rays divide oxygen molecules into single atoms. A 3-oxygen molecule is formed when these single atoms interact with adjacent oxygen molecule. In the ozone layer, ozone and oxygen molecules are constantly created, destroyed, and reformed when ultraviolet light (UV) disrupts the connections between atoms, resulting in free oxygen atoms. Because free oxygen atoms are highly reactive, they rapidly interact with other molecules. When a free oxygen atom collides with an oxygen molecule (O2), ozone is formed (O3). When a free oxygen atom collides with another oxygen atom, an oxygen molecule is formed (O2).
Ozone absorbs the most powerful ultraviolet light wavelengths, known as UV-C and UV-B, which are harmful to living beings. Other types of UV light are absorbed by oxygen molecules as well. Ozone and oxygen molecules can absorb 95 to 99% of the UV energy that reaches our planet when they work together. Heat is produced when UV radiation is absorbed by oxygen and ozone, which is why the stratosphere warms with height.
Ozone layer thickness
The ozone layer is thicker across the poles than it is over the equator. Ozone is becoming increasingly thin as it is depleting due to chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The atoms carbon, chlorine, and fluorine make up a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC). CFCs can be found in a variety of items, the most common of which being refrigerants and plastics. They’re popular among businesses and customers since they’re inexpensive, don’t easily catch fire, and don’t normally poison living things. However, once blown into the stratosphere, CFCs begin to deplete the ozone. All such factors are included in the causes of ozone layer depletion.
What are ozone holes?
The term ozone hole is used to describe areas of ozone layer degradation. Damage to the ozone is more like a very thin patch than a hole. Near the poles, the ozone layer is the weakest.
Human activities release chemicals including chlorine and bromine atoms into the atmosphere. These compounds, when combined with particular meteorological circumstances, produce reactions in the Ozone Layer, resulting in the destruction of ozone molecules. The ozone layer is depleted all around the world. The dramatic loss of the ozone is known as the Ozone Hole.
Importance of ozone layer
Since we require some of the sun’s radiation to survive, too much of it can harm living things. The ozone layer protects life on Earth by acting as a shield. Ozone is effective at trapping ultraviolet radiation, often known as UV light, which can penetrate organisms’ protective layers, such as skin, and damage DNA molecules in plants and animals. UVB and UVA are the two main kinds of UV light. UVB causes sunburns and malignancies such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma on the skin. UVA light, which is used in tanning beds, was once thought to be safe because it does not produce burns.
UVA light, on the other hand, is far more dangerous than UVB radiation, penetrating deeper and triggering lethal skin cancer, melanoma, and premature aging, according to scientists. Our Earth’s sunscreen, the ozone absorbs around 98 percent of this harmful UV rays. Life on Earth would be extremely difficult without the ozone in the atmosphere. Plants, as well as the planktons that feed the majority of ocean life, are unable to thrive and grow in high levels of ultraviolet radiation. Humans would be more prone to skin cancer, cataracts, and immune system impairment if the Ozone protection was weakened.