Searching for the ozone layer near the ground Ozone is an air pollutant that causes lung damage and asthma attacks, but at an altitude of 10 to 30 miles above Earth (16-48 km), ozone molecules protect life on Earth as well as help protect our planet from harmful solar radiation, and today we will learn through the EGYPress website on the ozone layer and its importance.
Who discovered the ozone layer?
The ozone layer or ozone shield is a region of the Earth’s stratosphere that absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet rays and contains high concentrations of ozone (O3) relative to other parts of the atmosphere.
The ozone layer was discovered by French physicists Charles Fabry and Henri Buisson in 1913.
Ozone protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun and without the ozone layer in the atmosphere, life on Earth would be very difficult.
Neither plants can survive and thrive under heavy ultraviolet radiation nor the plankton that serve as food for most ocean life, and with the weakening of the ozone layer’s shield, humans will be more susceptible to skin cancer, cataracts, and a weakened immune system.
However ozone can protect and damage the earth and it all depends on where it is located, for example, if ozone is in the stratosphere of the atmosphere, it will act as a shield.
However, if it is in the troposphere (about 10 kilometers from the Earth’s surface), ozone is harmful and a pollutant as it can cause damage to lung tissue and plants, and then, disruption of the ozone balance can have serious consequences.
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What is the ozone layer ?
The ozone layer is the common term for the high concentration of ozone in the stratosphere at an altitude of 15-30 km above the Earth’s surface. It covers the entire planet and protects life on Earth by absorbing harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Ozone is a natural molecule where the ozone molecule consists of three oxygen atoms, and it has the chemical formula O3.
Prolonged exposure to UV rays is associated with skin cancer, genetic damage, suppression of the immune system in humans and animals, and lower agricultural yields.
Research on the ozone layer
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In the stratosphere, the ozone layer is where about 90% of the ozone in the Earth system is located, but ozone makes up only one to ten of every million molecules in the ozone layer.
Ozone absorbs the most active wavelengths of ultraviolet rays, known as UV-C and UV-B, which are the wavelengths that are harmful to living organisms. Oxygen molecules also absorb other forms of UV rays. Together, ozone and oxygen molecules can absorb 95 to 99.9% of the rays. Ultraviolet that reaches our planet.
When oxygen and ozone absorb ultraviolet light, heat is generated, which is why the temperature of the stratosphere increases with altitude.
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Benefits of the ozone layer
The ozone layer absorbs 97 to 99 percent of medium-frequency ultraviolet (UV) sunlight, which can damage life-forms exposed near the surface and thinning of the ozone layer increases skin-related diseases.
In recent decades, due to the release of large amounts of man-made organohalogens, especially chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and bromofluorocarbons, the ozone layer is depleting and if the Earth loses its ozone layer protection, life on this planet will be in great danger.
The ozone layer in the stratosphere protects life on Earth from most ultraviolet radiation (UVB and UVC), which are the most harmful types of ultraviolet radiation.
Ozone and oxygen molecules are continually formed, damaged, and formed in the ozone layer as they are bombarded by ultraviolet (UV) rays, which break the bonds between atoms, creating free oxygen atoms.
Free oxygen atoms are highly reactive, which means that they bond easily with other molecules. If a free oxygen atom collides with an oxygen molecule (O2), it will form ozone (O3) and if a free oxygen atom collides with another oxygen atom, it will form an oxygen molecule (O2).
How is ozone formed?
When sunlight breaks down oxygen molecules into single atoms, ozone is formed in the atmosphere where these single atoms combine with nearby oxygen to form the triple-oxygen molecule ozone.
The ozone layer is the part of Earth’s atmosphere that contains relatively high concentrations of ozone gas, an inorganic molecule with the chemical formula O3.
Ozone is a pale blue gas with a pungent odor (similar to chlorine), although the concentration is relatively high, the concentration in this layer is still small compared to other gases in the stratosphere.
The ozone layer absorbs most of the ultraviolet radiation that reaches Earth from the sun, and the ozone layer in the atmosphere is thicker at the poles than above the equator.
We can also produce ozone artificially with the help of oxygen molecules in the lab and the principle is similar to the natural process, where electrical current is applied to voltage instead of sunlight.
Ozone is formed by placing dry oxygen in an ozone device and passing it through a high-voltage electric current via a silent electric discharge, where the electricity will convert an oxygen molecule into ozone. The most well-known ozone agent for laboratory purposes is the Siemens-Brody ozone reaction.
thickness of the ozone layer
The thickness of the layer varies with season and geographic region and the Earth’s stratosphere contains high concentrations of this compound, however, it is still a small fraction compared to other gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.
What is the date of the World Ozone Day?
The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is celebrated on September 16 every year.
What is the ozone hole?
Chemicals containing chlorine and bromine atoms are released into the atmosphere by human activities, and these chemicals combine with certain weather conditions to cause reactions in the ozone layer, which leads to the destruction of ozone molecules.
The depletion of the ozone layer occurs globally, however, the severe depletion of the ozone layer over the Antarctic is often referred to as the “ozone hole” as the increasing depletion has recently begun in the Arctic as well.
In 1974, chemists Mario Molina and Frank Sherwood Rowland discovered a link between chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and the breakdown of stratospheric ozone.
In 1985, geophysicist Joe Farman, along with meteorologists Brian Gardiner and John Shanklin, published results of abnormally low ozone concentrations over Antarctica.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer also entered into force in 1987 and places binding obligations on countries to phase out production of all major ozone-depleting substances.
Data show that stratospheric concentrations of ozone-depleting substances are declining and, as a result of international action, the ozone layer is expected to restore pre-1980 levels above mid-latitudes by 2050 and over polar regions by 2065.
Effects of ozone depletion
Ozone layers block harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun and protect biological processes on Earth that are essential to sustain life. If not blocked by the ozone layer, exposure to ultraviolet rays can increase the risk of cataracts, skin cancer and other harmful effects in humans.
O3 depletion causes more UV rays to enter the troposphere and UV rays are very harmful and can cause health problems like skin cancer, skin aging, cataracts, sunburn, etc. They not only affect human health but also pose a threat to plants and other living organisms.
Depletion in the O3 layer is responsible for killing phytoplankton, reducing fish productivity, etc. It can also cause mutation in plant cells by affecting plant protein.
Moreover, UV rays increase the rate of evaporation from the surface across the stomata surface, therefore, it lowers the moisture content of the soil, it also affects constructions and materials, thus, it damages paints and fibers resulting in faster color fading.
And if ozone is present in excessive amounts in the troposphere, it can cause many diseases such as headache, nose and throat irritation, cough, breathing problems, chest pain, dry throat etc.
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