Did you know?
The depletion of the ozone layer was once a hot topic, but this issue has largely fallen by the wayside in recent years. Even though the ozone layer might no longer be discussed on a daily basis, there is still widespread concern that it is deteriorating rapidly. To understand the implications, one must first know the purpose of the ozone layer. According to National Geographic, the ozone layer is a belt of gas that sits between 9.3 and 18.6 miles above the Earth. Its purpose is to shield the planet from harmful ultraviolet B radiation that is emitted by the sun. Due to the release of pollution containing the chemicals chlorine and bromine, as well as chlorofluorocarbons found in spray aerosols, the ozone layer is thinning and deteriorating in certain areas. This allows UVB radiation to reach the earth, contributing to higher rates of skin cancer and cataracts in humans. Exposure to UVB rays also may impact ecosystems. It is believed UVB radiation inhibits the production of phytoplankton that make up an important food source for marine animals. The good news is that measurements from satellites this year showed the hole in the earth’s ozone layer that forms over Antarctica each September was the smallest observed since 1988, according to scientists from NASA and NOAA. Reduction in environmental pollutants may be behind that development. However, scientists note warmer stratospheric temperatures also constrained the growth of the ozone hole.