Published: 16 Sep 2023, 04:30 pm
The delicate ozone layer is a shield of gas that protects our planet from harmful parts of the Sun’s radiation, playing an important role in preserving life on Earth. September 16 this year is celebrated as Ozone Day under the theme “Montreal Protocol: Fixing the ozone layer and reducing climate change.”
The ozone layer is on track to recover completely within the next four decades, thanks to the global phaseout of ozone-depleting chemicals. A panel of experts backed by the United Nations confirmed this during research presented at the American Meteorological Society’s 103rd annual meeting in January.
According to the report, the ozone layer should recover to values before the appearance of the ozone hole by around 2066 over the Antarctic, 2025 over the Arctic and 2040 for the rest of the world if current conservation policies remain in place.
What is the ozone layer?
Ozone is a molecule that is made up of three oxygen atoms. A layer of this gas sits in our planet’s stratosphere between 15 and 30 kilometres above the surface. It absorbs a portion of the radiation from the Sun, preventing it from reaching the planet. Importantly it prevents UVB radiation from reaching the Earth and harming humans and other living beings.
The ozone hole
Ozone molecules are constantly formed and destroyed in the stratosphere. If it were not for humans, the total amount of ozone in the layer would remain constant over time. But the ozone molecules in the atmosphere get destroyed when they come in contact with bromine and chlorine atoms released by human-made chemicals.
Using these chemicals causes ozone molecules to be destroyed faster than they are created. Widespread use of such chemicals eventually caused the formation of a hole in the ozone layer.
Fixing the ozone hole
The Montreal Protocol brought together world governments in a rampantly successful effort to protect the ozone layer by phasing out many ozone-depleting substances. This resolution was so successful that in 2003, then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan referred to the Montreal Protocol as “perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date.”_Indian-Express