Atmospheric Ozone - Essay Example

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According to the American Meteorological Society, Atmospheric Ozone is a minor but important constituent (with chemical symbol O3) of the earth's atmosphere. In the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Ozone, an allotrope of Oxygen (O2) is described as a triatomic molecule less stable than Oxygen and much less abundant in the atmosphere…
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Atmospheric Ozone
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Download file to see previous pages Although Ozone occurs naturally in the atmosphere it can be produced by numerous chemical reactions in a chemical laboratory. Atmospheric Ozone results from a mechanism when O2 absorbs Ultra Violet (UV) radiation at wavelengths of about 242 nanometers (nm) [1m = 109nm] but is removed by a phenomenon called Photo-dissociation from sunlight at wavelengths greater than 290nm (Ozone in the Atmosphere "n.d").
Ozone occurs in the atmosphere in Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere and Thermosphere. The amount of Ozone found in the atmospheric layers is dependent on the temperature. The troposphere which is the bottom layer of atmosphere has the lowest amount of ozone. The deterioration of the Ozone layer leads to a phenomenon known as the 'Greenhouse' effect. The effect is caused by greenhouse gasses known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) including carbon dioxide and is a major cause of many environmental problems. Greenhouse gases are said to be the leading cause of Global warming (Ozone in the Atmosphere, "n.d").
The amount of ozone in the atmosphere is measured using Dobson units (Du), [1 mm of O3 thick layer = 100 Du] if compressed at sea level pressure. The threat to the atmospheric ozone balance has been on the increase as industrialization and modernization grows around the world. These events have significantly increased the rate of ozone removal, resulting in a gradual decline in the global ozone levels (Wikipedia, "n.d").
Ozone Depletion
Man-made industrial activities produce massive amounts of CFC's. The dangerous and ozone depleting compounds are used in many industrial processes and can be found in many household products. CFC's are used as coolants in refrigerators and as propellants in various spray cans. These gases are also employed in the production of certain foam mixtures, in electronic and mostly in solvents (The Atmospheric Zone "n.d").
CFC's have a very long lifespan. A single molecule of a CFC gas can exist for centuries before it is eliminated once it escapes into the atmosphere. After their release into the air through a simple human activity like the spraying of a CFC containing can, studies have shown that the gases can reach the stratosphere between a 1-5 year periods. Once the released CFC reaches the ozone layer, it depletes it causing less UV rays to be absorbed by ozone layer. This happens when the CFC molecules breakdown upon reaction with UV rays from sunlight, the reaction releases free radical chlorine atoms and it these atoms that destroy and deplete atmospheric ozone layer.
The depletion of the protective ozone layer and the subsequent passage of UV rays which are known to be harmful are the cause of various effects and illnesses. Skin cancer is said to be on the increase, various problems and diseases are plaguing crops around the world. Temperatures are rising around the earth leading to more floods, hurricanes like Katrina in 2005, and record braking heat waves in Europe. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) a United Nations Advisory body, environmentalists and researchers have linked (through the use of ground-based and satellite measurements) the depletion of the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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