Ozone Depletion

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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Ozone DepletionOzone Depletion is mainly caused by ultraviolet radiation, which if we don't be careful, will increase in intensity all over the earth. This will cause problems, not only with humans, but animals, and even our crops. Climatologists recently discovered evidence that this is happening. Evidence for ozone loss traced to volcanic eruption. Eruptions inject sulfur particles as high as the lower stratosphere, where they form a sulfur aerosol. When this reacts with the chlorine reservoir chemicals, it ties up stratospheric chlorine. When this chlorine is released, it is a likely cause of ozone loss in midaltitudes.

Penetrating the atmosphere and being absorbed by biological tissues, UV radiation damages protein and DNA molecules at the surfaces of all living things. If all the ultraviolet radiation falling on the stratosphere reached the earth's surface, no life on earth would probably survive, as plants and animals would be burnt and destroyed.

UV radiation effects humans in a very bad way, such as sunburns. In North America, every year, about 700,000 cases of skin cancer is reported, along with damage to plant crops and other life forms.

British atmospheric scientists found a "hole"(or a thinning of one area) in the ozone shield in the South Pole, which reappears every spring in Antarctica and has been intensifying. Different gases are responsible for the ozone "hole". In the summer, gases such as nitrogen dioxide and methane react with chlorine monoxide and chlorine to trap the chlorine, which helps prevent ozone depletion. Shifting patches of ozone-depleted air have caused UV radiation increases of 20% in Australia. Where the ozone shield is the thinnest, 3 out of 4 Australians are expected to develop skin cancer. The EPA has also predicted that because of the ozone loss in the 1980's, it will have eventually caused 12 million...