What is ozone layer?
The ozone layer is a deep layer in the stratosphere, encircling the Earth, that has large amounts of ozone in it. Ozone is the layer of gas that forms a protective covering in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Ozone is formed when oxygen molecules absorb ultraviolet photons and undergo a chemical reaction known as photo dissociation or photolysis, where a single molecule of oxygen breaks down to two oxygen atoms. The free oxygen atom (O), then combines with an oxygen molecule (O2) and forms a molecule of ozone (O3). The ozone molecules, in turn absorb ultraviolet rays between 310 to 200 nm wavelength and thereby prevent these harmful radiations from entering the Earth’s atmosphere. In the process, ozone molecules split up into a molecule of oxygen and an oxygen atom. The oxygen atom (O) again combines with the oxygen molecule (O2) to regenerate an ozone (O3) molecule. Thus, the total amount of ozone is maintained by this continuous process of destruction and regeneration.
The ozone layer protects the Earth from the ultraviolet rays sent down by the sun. If the ozone layer is depleted by human action, the effects on the planet could be catastrophic.
What is ozone layer depletion?
Ozone layer depletion is destruction of the upper atmospheric layer of ozone gas, caused by substances formed from breakdown of ozone depleting substances. The main cause of this is the release of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC).
Why ozone layer is so important?
If you are wondering why is the ozone layer important, then the answer lies in the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays. The ozone layer is responsible for absorbing the ultraviolet rays and thereby preventing them from passing through the atmosphere of Earth. Ultraviolet rays of the Sun are associated with a number of health related and environmental issues. The most important of these is the association between ultraviolet rays and an increased risk of developing several types of skin cancers including malignant melanoma, basal and squamous cell carcinoma. Even the incidents of cortical cataracts can also increase significantly with the increased exposure to ultraviolet rays.