By: Olivia Kendle
Ozone layers are found in the stratosphere in the atmosphere. The layers absorb ultraviolet (UV) radiation that is harmful to living organisms. The UV rays can cause health problems from eye damage to skin cancer.
Though the depletion of ozone layers does not play a role in global warming, it is dangerous for us if the ozone layers cannot shield us from this UV radiation or other dangerous rays emitted from the sun.
Depletion of the ozone layers is caused by the pollutants that humans have been putting in the atmosphere. These pollutants are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons. The ozone hole, located in the upper stratosphere, shadows over the polar regions. Every living being below the hole, on Earth, is being affected by the radiation coming through the hole and touching Earth’s surface.
In 1987, scientists organized a program called the Montreal Protocol which was designed to phase out the depleting chemicals and reduce their concentration in the atmosphere. The Montreal Protocol has been successful and the whole project will be completed in around 2030.
Global warming is also causing depletion of the ozone layers. The warming in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) leads to cooling in the upper atmosphere (stratosphere). Warming in the lower atmosphere is mostly caused by greenhouse gases. Because Earth’s heat would usually pass through the troposphere and the stratosphere and eventually travel out of the atmosphere but is now being trapped in the stratosphere.
The heating in the lower atmosphere and the cooling in the upper atmosphere also explains the blanket analogy. The ‘blanket’ that covers Earth’s surface warms up as the Earth warms up with it. The heat gets trapped in the atmosphere or under the ‘blanket’ and no heat gets to the upper atmosphere while it is all in the lower atmosphere. The cooling in the upper stratosphere causes even more loss of ozone depletion.
Overall, the heating of the Earth (global warming) is affecting and changing the ozone layers or the ‘ozone hole’. More UV radiation rays and other dangerous rays are starting to come through the ozone layers but fortunately, the Montreal Protocol is helping prevent that.
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