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Ozone layer: Know All About The Ozone

July 29, 2022    7 min read

There are multiple levels to the Earth's atmosphere. The troposphere, the lowest layer, stretches from the Earth's surface to about 6 miles (10 km) in altitude.The stratosphere is the next layer, which extends from 6 miles (10 km) to around 31 miles (50 km). The majority of atmospheric ozone is localised in a stratospheric layer between 9 and 18 miles (15 and 30 kilometres) above the Earth's surface. Three oxygen atoms make up the molecule ozone. Ozone molecules are constantly generated and destroyed in the stratosphere at any one time. The ozone layer, also known as the ozonosphere, is an area of the upper atmosphere that lies between 15 and 35 kilometres (9 and 22 miles) above the Earth's surface and contains relatively high ozone concentrations (O3). The stratosphere contains approximately 90% of the ozone in the atmosphere.

The stratosphere's ozone layer absorbs a portion of the sun's radiation, preventing it from reaching the planet's surface. Most notably, it absorbs the UVB portion of the spectrum.

Ozone creation and destruction

The breaking of chemical bonds within oxygen molecules (O2) by high-energy sun photons is the primary source of ozone synthesis in the stratosphere. This process, known as photodissociation, causes single oxygen atoms to be released, which then combine with intact oxygen molecules to generate ozone. Ozone was permitted to build up in Earth's atmosphere due to rising atmospheric oxygen concentrations two billion years ago, a process that eventually led to the formation of the stratosphere.

Source: Shutterstock

Chemical activities that make and destroy ozone molecules, as well as winds and other transport systems that transfer ozone molecules throughout the world, cause the amount of ozone in the stratosphere to vary naturally throughout the year. Human activities, on the other hand, have had a significant impact on the ozone layer over the last many decades.

Ozone Depletion

Ozone molecules are destroyed when chlorine and bromine atoms come into touch with them in the stratosphere. Before being evacuated from the stratosphere, a single chlorine atom can damage over 100,000 ozone molecules. Ozone can be depleted faster than it can be generated naturally.

Source: Shutterstock

When some substances are exposed to high UV radiation in the stratosphere, they emit chlorine or bromine. Ozone-depleting chemicals are compounds that contribute to ozone depletion (ODS). Halons and methyl bromide are two ODS that emit bromine. ODS are emitted near the surface of the Earth, but they are taken up the stratosphere over time, which can take two to five years.

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