We hear a lot of talk about the ozone layer, about how important it is to the planet, and how we are damaging it. But, there is so much we don’t fully understand about the ozone layer or the way it works. Basically, the ozone layer is the name given to the shield above the Earth’s atmosphere that is responsible for absorbing and soaking up the most powerful rays of the Sun.
We need the ozone layer in place to help protect us from Sun’s harmful UV radiation. Global warming and greenhouse gases have been cause for concern in recent years, but the deteriorating ozone layer is also something to worry about. Here are some of the things we feel you need to know about the ozone layer.
Understanding the ozone layer
We all know the name, but do we actually know and understand exactly what the ozone layer is? Well, many of us probably don’t, but that’s the purpose of this post. Simply put, the Earth’s atmosphere is divided into several layers. There’s the Troposphere that lies above the surface of the Earth; above that is the Stratosphere; going a little higher, you reach the Mesosphere, followed by the Thermosphere and Exosphere. Now, the ozone layer sits in the lower part of the Stratosphere (around 30 km above the Earth) and is named due to the high concentration of molecules found here.
Why the ozone layer matters
As we established earlier, one of the reasons why the ozone layer is so important is that it absorbs harmful rays from the Sun. So, let’s look a little closer at how this happens, and why it’s so important. In 1913, two French scientists named Henri Buisson and Charles Fabry discovered the ozone layer and the fact that it absorbs close to 99% of the Sun’s UV rays. Were it not for the protection the ozone layer offers, we would all be contracting skin cancer and burning up any time we stepped outside. Without the ozone layer, there could be no life on Earth – that’s how much it matters.
How is the ozone layer formed?
Okay, now we’re getting to the more sciency bit – sorry! The way the ozone layer is formed is fascinating, and the ultraviolet rays it protects us from are actually instrumental in the formation of the ozone layer. Basically, one molecule of ozone is formed from three atoms of oxygen bound together (O3), whereas an oxygen molecule is actually 2 atoms of oxygen bound together (O2). When the rays from the Sun hit the oxygen molecules in the atmosphere, what happens is that the molecules split into oxygen atoms. These then combine in order to create the ozone, a process known as the ozone-oxygen cycle.
The ozone is a pretty fascinating part of our planet, and it’s also one of the most important because it effectively keeps us alive. This is why it’s important for us to do more to look after the ozone layer and try to stop ourselves from damaging it in the future. We need to shield ourselves from the Sun’s harmful rays, and that means ensuring the ozone layer is in the best shape it can possibly be in.