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The Frightning Ozone Hole

Last night while I was talking to Arpita about the the water cycle and climate change and mentioned about the atmosphere she surprisingly told me that she knew how atmosphere helped us. And she did. Her teacher had explained the role of atmosphere is such a manner that she remembered. Also, she remembered atmosphere being mentioned from the post I had written earlier about 10 surprising facts about planet Earth. She asked me whether I knew that the atmosphere had a hole. When I told her that I did about the ozone hole she was ecstatic.

Atmosphere and ozone

Our Earth is wrapped in a blanket of air called the ‘atmosphere’. This is made up of several layers. About 19-30 kilometres above the Earth is a layer of gas called ozone. Ozone is another form of oxygen. Ozone is produced naturally in the atmosphere.

Why is ozone layer important to us?

Does your mother not warm you to never directly look up at the sun. The sun gives off ‘ultra-violet rays’ (UV rays). These are the rays that causes our skin to tan. Too much UV can cause skin cancer and will also harm all plants and animals. The ozone layer is like  a protective shield. Life on Earth could not exist without the protective shield of the ozone layer. The UV rays are also dangerous for our eyes and could blindness. The ozone layer is very important because it stops too many of the sun’s ‘ultra-violet rays’ (UV rays) getting through to the Earth.

Why is ozone layer important to plants and animal life?

UV rays are really dangerous. They can travel through water and kill small water animals or plants, called ‘plankton’ in oceans and seas. Whales and other fishes have large quantities of plankton. If plankton dies so will whales and other fishes which eat plankton. UV rays is large quantity could damage all green plants.  So if the ozone layer is destroyed or keeps getting thinner, there could be fewer and fewer plants on Earth. Less plants means less ozygen. It also means less food for us.

What is the ozone hole?

Every spring, a very big hole , almost as big as USA develops in the ozone layer over Antarctica, in the South Pole. A smaller hole also develops each year over the Arctic, at the North Pole. These tells us that the ozone layer is getting thinner all over the planet. That means our layer of protection against UV rays is becoming thinner.

Nature creates ozone. There is a dis-balance when more ozone is destroyed than naturally being created.

How does ozone hole form?

Man made gas Chloro-Fluoro-Carbons (CFCs) are the main cause of ozone hole. CFCs are are not poisonous and do not catch fire. They are used in refrigerators, air conditioning systems and some fire extinguishers. Most countries have now stopped using CFCs.

Ozone is a funny gas. Why?

Ozone is found between 19 and 30 kilometres high in the atmosphere. As it is like a protective shield hence all life forms exists because of it.
This same ozone when found lower down near the Earth’s surface where we can breathe, becomes very dangerous for our health. This ozone is caused by a reaction between air pollution and sunlight and can cause smog.

Important Sources

This animated short film, which I discovered on the net beautifully explains the ozone hole. Ozzy Ozone (an ozone molecule) and Alberta the Albatross takes a voyage of discovery to find out exactly who and what is attacking the ozone layer, and how children can play an important role in making a difference. The Government of Barbados Ozone Programme developed the Ozzy Ozone character for use in their national awareness campaigns.


2. http://www.clean-air-kids.org.uk/ozonehole.html

3. http://uv.biospherical.com/student/page2.html

4. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/05/100505-science-environment-ozone-hole-25-years/

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