2The Ozone ShieldThe ozone layer is the layer of the atmosphere at an altitude of 15 to 40 km in which ozone (molecule made up of 3 oxygen atoms) absorbs ultraviolet solar radiation.It acts as a shield (or sunscreen) to protect earth’s surface and it’s inhabitants from most of the sun’s UV lightUV light is harmful to organisms because it can damage the genetic material in living cells.
3Chemicals That Cause Ozone Depletion Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are hydrocarbons in which some or all of the hydrogen atoms are replaced by chlorine and fluorine.used in coolants for refrigerators and air conditioners cleaning solvents, and at one time as a propellant in spray cans of everyday products such as deodorants, insecticides, and paintUse is now restricted due to damage to the ozone layer.
4Chemicals That Cause Ozone Depletion CFCs are chemically stable at Earth’s surface. They do not breakdown or join with other chemicals.In the stratosphere, however, CFCs start to break apart and start to destroy the protective ozone. CFC molecules remain active in the stratosphere for 60 to 120 years.
5Chemicals That Cause Ozone Depletion Each CFC molecule contains 1 to 4 chlorine atoms.Scientists estimate that a single chlorine atom in the CFC structure can destroy 100,000 ozone molecules.
6The Ozone HoleThe first signs of ozone thinning in the data from 1979.In 1985, scientists working in Antarctica revealed that the ozone layer above the South Pole had thinned by 50 to 98 percent.The ozone hole is a thinning of stratospheric ozone that occurs over the poles during the spring.Ozone levels over the Arctic have decreased as well. In March 1997, ozone levels over part of Canada were 45 percent below normal.
8Polar Stratospheric Clouds Polar stratospheric clouds are clouds that form at altitudes of about 21,000 m in the Arctic and Antarctic when air temperatures drop below –80°C.
9How Does the Ozone Hole Form? During the dark polar winter, strong circulating winds over Antarctica, called the polar vortex, isolate cold air from surrounding warmer air.The air within the vortex grows extremely cold.When sunlight returns to the South Pole in the spring, molecular chlorine is split into two chlorine atoms by UV radiation.The chlorine atoms rapidly destroy ozone. This destruction cause ozone holes.
10You may be thinking, “If ozone is also being produced as air pollution, why does that ozone (pollutant) not repair the ozone hole in the stratosphere?”Ozone is very chemically reactive. Ozone produced by pollution breaks down or combines with other substances in the troposphere. This takes place long before it can reach the stratosphere to replace ozone that is being destroyed.
11Effects of Ozone Thinning on Humans With the ozone decreasing in the stratosphere more UV light is able to pass through the atmosphere and reach the Earth’s surface.This UV will damage the DNA of all living things leading to the development of skin cancer and other damaging effects.
13Effects of Ozone Thinning on Animals and Plants High levels of UV light can:kill single-celled organisms (phytoplankton )that live near the surface of the oceanThe loss of phytoplankton could disrupt ocean food chains, reduce fish harvests, increase in CO2.
14Effects of Ozone Thinning on Animals and Plants Exposure to increased UV light can be damaging for amphibians, such as toads, because they lay eggs that lack shells in the shallow water of ponds and streams.UV light at natural levels kills many eggs of some species by damaging unprotected DNA.
15Effects of Ozone Thinning on Animals and Plants Ecologists suggest using the health of amphibian populations as an indicator of environmental change due to their environmental sensitivity.UV light can damage plants by interfering with photosynthesis.This damage can lower crop production.
17Protecting the Ozone Layer In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was created to sharply limit production of CFCs.1992, developed countries agreed to eliminate most CFCs by 1995.The United States pledged to ban all substances that pose a significant danger to the ozone layer by the year 2000.
18Protecting the OzoneAfter developed countries banned most uses of CFCs, chemical companies developed CFC replacements.Aerosol cans no longer uses CFCs as propellants, and air conditioners are becoming CFC free.CFCs released 30 years ago are still destroying ozone today, so it will be many years before the ozone layer completely recovers.