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Ozone layer – why is it so important to us and is it truly healing?

Updated: Feb 6

Author: Seda Özmen

Publication date: 08.09.2023


What is the ozone layer?

You may have heard about the ozone layer a lot before. The truth is that its effects on the world and its causes are the most common issues given out. In particular, the ozone layer stands for a thin, naturally occurring layer of ozone gas (O3).

The thing with Ozone Layer is that it plays a vital role in our atmosphere. This is because it serves as a protective shield against the harmful effects of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. We can also define it as a natural filter, absorbing and dissipating a big portion of UV rays before they reach the Earth's surface.


Importance of the ozone layer

The ozone layer has the importance for several critical reasons that directly impact life on Earth:


1. Protecting the surface of the Earth

Ultraviolet rays of the sun

One of the ozone layer's main roles is to prevent the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation released by the sun. [1] In fact, UV radiation can cause severe harm to living organisms such as DNA. It also increases the risk of skin cancer, cataracts, and other health issues in humans. Therefore, the ozone layer acts as a natural protective barrier by absorbing these harmful rays.



The ecosystem

2. Preserving the ecosystems

The ozone layer helps to maintain the health and functioning of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. UV radiation can impact plants, animals, and microorganisms. Apart from that, it might alter the physiological processes and disrupt food chains. However, the ozone layer helps sustain biodiversity by reducing the intensity of UV radiation. So, the balance of ecosystems becomes safe thanks to the ozone layer.


3. Regulating the climate

The ozone layer has an influence on the Earth’s climate. Actually, it impacts atmospheric temperatures, wind patterns, and atmospheric circulation. For example, changes in the ozone layer may have an impact on how energy is distributed in the atmosphere. As a result, this can lead to changes in weather patterns and climate dynamics.


Climate and wind patterns

How did humans damage the ozone layer?

Humans damage the ozone layer by releasing chemicals called CFCs and other similar things into the air. These chemicals are used in refrigeration, air conditioning, fire extinguishers and industrial processes. These chemicals went up to the sky and broke apart the protective layer of ozone. This damage caused "holes" in the ozone layer, making it less effective in keeping us safe. However, global efforts have been made to reduce these harmful chemicals and help the ozone layer recover.


Industrial processes

Is the ozone layer being healed?

Yes! There is evidence to suggest that the ozone layer is healing as a result of much effort. According to an updated United Nations (UN) report, the ozone layer is recovering at a rate that will allow it to reach pre-1980 levels by 2040. Based on this report, the 1987 agreement to prevent gasses harmful to the ozone layer has been successful. It is stated in the assessment that,


● The 8.91 million square mile hole over Antarctica will close up in 2066.

● And, the atmospheric layer above the North Pole will return to normal in 2045.


Antartica

The Montreal Agreement

The ozone layer started to get thin in the 1970s due to chlorofluorocarbons commonly used in:

● Spray cans,

● Refrigerators,

● Building insulation

● Air conditioners.

A growing hole in the layer was first discovered by scientists in 1985. Two years later, the Montreal Agreement was signed by 46 countries against toxic chemicals. The agreement was later ratified by all UN members, giving up almost 99% of ozone-depleting gasses.

According to the report, the first signs of ozone recovery were observed four years ago. However, the hole in the ozone layer continued to grow around the South Pole until 2000, luckily then it began to close up.


Refrigeration

 

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