An Overview of the Ozone Layer in the Earth's Atmosphere

Categories: Atmosphere

The Ozone Layer

The ozone layer is part of the atmosphere of the Earth. The Earth’s atmosphere is a mixture of gases that surround it, they are held around the Earth by the effect of gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth, without it the changes in temperature during the day would be incredible, changes would be in the region of 280C rather than only 10C. As well as maintaining a temperature that can sustain life the atmosphere protects the planet from harmful radiation from the sun and provides the gases that we and other living things need to breathe and feed.

Like most natural things it depends on a healthy balance of chemicals so that it can maintain protection from the sun which it has always given before.

The ozone layer is a very important part of the Earth. It protects the inhabitants of the Earth from the harmful radiation that the sun emits. By absorbing a particular form of ultra-violet light (UV), UVB the ozone layer protects humans, animals, and plants together with certain materials.

UVB can affect people and animals by causing skin cancer or cataracts in the eyes which can cause blindness. Apart from the health of the inhabitants of the plant UVB can also affect the condition of the plant life which can affect both the inhabitants of the planet and cause other problems such as an increase in global warming. The oceans, for example, get rid of a great deal of Carbon-Dioxide (CO2), releasing oxygen back into the environment, this is due to a large amount of plankton that lives near the upper layers of the ocean which is exposed to sunlight.

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An increase in the amount of UVB radiation on the surface of the sea could cause the death of this plankton which would decrease the ability of the ocean to absorb CO2. With less CO2 being sucked by the ocean more would be left in the atmosphere, this would increase the problem, which is caused partly by the presence of the large amount of CO2.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were invented in the 1920s, they are a compound of carbon-containing chlorine and fluorine. CFCs are man-made chemicals, so we call them synthetic chemicals. Since their introduction CFCs have been used as refrigerants in refrigerators and air conditioning units, propellants in aerosol cans, foaming agents in the production of packaging,

cleaners used in the electronics industry, and fire extinguisher chemicals. CFCs are well suited to all these applications as they are non-flammable, non-toxic, have high chemical stability and the chemical properties are well suited to the applications given above. CFCs are also relatively cheap chemicals compared to some alternatives which is always a good reason why a particular chemical is popular in the industry. CFCs are quite safe when they are present in the ocean, it is only when they pass into the air that they become a problem.

The two major types of alternatives to CFCs are hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Both these chemicals contain hydrogen. This means that they will react with the troposphere before they begin to reach the stratosphere where the ozone layer is situated. Only a small fraction of the chemicals will reach the stratosphere having passed through the troposphere, this means that they will present less of a danger to the ozone layer. HCFCs still contain chlorine, which can potentially be released in the same manner as the chlorine in CFCs, but they are used in reduced amounts and do not last as long in the atmosphere as CFCs. HFCs do not contain chlorine and there is no known way in which they can be broken down in the stratosphere so that they can start to.

CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs all absorb infra-red radiation that is reflected from the Earth’s surface. This means that they can all contribute to global warming. However, the impact of HFCs and HCFCs is much less than the CFCs as they do not last as long as CFCs, meaning that over the total lifetime of the CFC substitutes they will absorb less infra-radiation than CFCs. So here as well the substitutes will have a lesser effect on the environment.

The Earth is kept warm by its atmosphere, which acts rather like a woolly coat – without it, the average surface temperature would be about 18 degrees Centigrade. The heat from the sun passes through the atmosphere, warming it up, and most of it warms the surface of the planet. As the Earth warms up, it emits heat in the form of infra-red radiation, much like a hot pan emits heat even after it’s taken away from the cooker. Some of this heat is trapped by the atmosphere, but the rest escapes into space. The so-called greenhouse gases make the atmosphere trap more of this radiation, so it gradually warms up more than it should, like a greenhouse (although a greenhouse does this by stopping warm air from rising and escaping from it).

Reducing the use of fossil fuels would considerably reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced, as well as reduce the levels of the pollutants which cause. This can be achieved by either using less energy altogether or using none at all. You can help save energy in lots of ways: turn off lights when you leave a room, if you have a car, don’t use it for short journeys, get your parents to insulate their house properly, and basically, anything at all that uses less energy.

Eliminating the use of CFCs is something we can do. New refrigerants have been developed, and new aerosols use other propellants such as butane, so it is now actually quite difficult to get hold of CFCs. stopping deforestation by using renewable forests and planting a new tree whenever one has fallen would help to raise the carbon dioxide-absorbing ability of the planet.

There are two basic approaches to the problem of global warming: limitation and adaptation. The limitation is all about reducing numerous greenhouse gains in the atmosphere, so limiting the future global warming effect. Adaptation is about changing our way of life to cope with an increase in the global temperature. We need to adopt the imitation approach, but any serious effort to combat the greenhouse effect must combine these two strategies, as global warming has already begun, and will continue for many years because of the number of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.

In 1993, the EC proposed that a tax on energy consumption should be imposed on all the member states, with the tax rate being based on how much carbon was in each fuel taxed (if a fuel contains more carbon, burning it will produce more carbon dioxide, increasing global warming). However, no agreements have been reached on this proposal yet.

In 1992, the Earth Summit was held in Brazil, where developed nations were asked to make sure their emissions of greenhouse gases stayed at their 1990 levels until the year 2000.

However, this was not a legally binding request, and while the EC has agreed to the proposal, not all the other developed nations have. Can we prevent global warming? We just need to think a little about it before the next time we hop into our cars for a little drive. Today, action is occurring at every level to reduce,  avoid, and to better understand the risks associated with climate change. Many cities and states across the country have prepared greenhouse gas inventories, and many are actively pursuing programs and policies that will result in greenhouse gas emission reductions.

At the national level, the U.S. Global Change Research Program coordinates the world’s most extensive research effort on climate change. In addition, the Clinton Administration is actively engaging the private sector, states, and localities in partnerships based on a win-win philosophy and aimed at addressing the challenge of global warming while, at the same time, strengthening the economy.

At the global level, countries around the world have expressed a firm commitment to strengthening international responses to the risk of climate change. The U.S. is working to strengthen international action and broaden participation at a global Framework Convention of Climate Change that will be held in Kyoto, Japan, this year. So yes, we can help to reduce the effects of global warming.

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An Overview of the Ozone Layer in the Earth's Atmosphere. (2022, Jul 24). Retrieved from

An Overview of the Ozone Layer in the Earth's Atmosphere
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