Ozone depletion: causes and consequences of destruction

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Ozone depletion: causes and consequences of destruction
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Until the discoveries made in the last century, people simply did not know about the role that ozone plays.

At the end of the century, it became clear that, due to a number of reasons, the ozone layer is depleted, becoming thinner in some places or simply less saturated with ozone. This phenomenon has been called ozone holes.

Causes of ozone depletion

Triatomic oxygen is called ozone. Its main part is located in the upper atmosphere at an altitude of 12 to 50 kilometers above sea level. The most significant concentration is concentrated at the 23-kilometer altitude. This gas was discovered in the atmosphere in 1873 by the German scientist Shenbein. Later, such a modification of oxygen was found below the named heights and even in the layers of the atmosphere near the earth’s surface.

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It turned out that space rocket launches, aircraft flights at altitudes of 12 to 16 kilometers, and freon emissions play the largest role in the formation of ozone holes.

For the first time, an ozone hole with a diameter of more than 1000 km was first discovered in 1985 in the Southern Hemisphere over Antarctica by a group of scientists from Britain.

Technological progress and ozone holes

The greatest harm to the ozone layer is caused by compounds of chlorine and hydrogen. Such compounds are formed during the decomposition of freons. Usually they are used as sprayers. When a certain temperature threshold is reached, freons boil. At the same time, their volume increases several times. It is this process that is required in the manufacture of aerosols.

Ozone depletion
Picture: Jeffrey Banke | Dreamstime

Freons are also used in the manufacture of devices that provide low temperatures. They are found in systems of large and small freezers, industrial and domestic refrigerators. When freons leak, having a weight less than that of atmospheric air, they begin to rise. In the atmosphere, chlorine detaches and reacts with triatomic oxygen, thereby destroying the ozone molecules, turning it into ordinary oxygen.

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The destruction of the ozone layer of the atmosphere was discovered quite a long time ago, but only by the 1980s the process was a real assessment. It turned out that with a significant reduction in ozone in the atmosphere, the planet will stop cooling. The temperature will start to rise. Moreover, the rate of this growth will exceed even the option of developing a greenhouse effect due to an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Whether the greenhouse effect is the cause of the destruction of the ozone layer is still a moot point for scientists.

Consequences of the destruction of the Earth’s ozone layer

As already mentioned, ozone is triatomic oxygen. The gas has a special smell and a bluish color. Under certain conditions, the gas becomes a liquid, distinguished by a color called “indigo”. Under special conditions, ozone can change from a liquid state to a solid state. In this case, its color will turn dark blue.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that without the presence of the ozone layer, life on our planet would be impossible. At least in the form that exists.

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Ultraviolet radiation is dangerous to all living things. If it becomes more intense, then massive serious diseases will begin under its influence. Vision suffers. This is the development of cataracts, and changes in the cornea, and exfoliation of the retina. Hard ultraviolet has a depressing effect on cellular immunity. First of all, it will affect the skin, expressed in oncological diseases. Living organisms, due to exposure to increased radiation, will cease to resist any infections to a much lesser extent.

Interesting fact: The impact of ozone holes on humans is the growth of diseases such as skin cancer and cataracts.
Ozone depletion
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Intense ultraviolet radiation has an overwhelming effect on photosynthesis. It causes changes in the behavior of animals. Their adaptation is broken. They start migrating. The reproduction of blue-green algae, which have a detrimental effect on the inhabitants of the aquatic environment, is accelerating. The biological resources of the world’s oceans are drastically reduced. Radiation affects fish fry and eggs.

There is a decrease in soil fertility. Bacteria living in the soil, sensitive to ultraviolet radiation, die off. And just to them, to a large extent, the soil owes fertility. If the situation is not changed, the end result will be the transformation of the Earth into a lifeless planet with climate change.

The problem of ozone holes

The problem began to be discussed at the global level, it can lead to an environmental catastrophe. Relevant documents and agreements were signed. The countries came to a unified decision on the need to reduce the production of freons. A replacement was found for them. It turned out to be a propane-butane mixture. Its indicators are such that it can successfully replace freons.

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At present, the danger of ozone layer destruction continues to be among the most topical. However, in the world, technologies that use freons continue to be used. Therefore, scientists are busy solving the problem of reducing freon emissions, trying to find cheaper and more convenient substitutes for them.

Ways to solve the global problem of ozone holes

In 1985, the world began to take serious measures to protect the ozone layer. Ozone holes have become a new environmental problem. At first, restrictions on freon emissions were introduced. Then the governments approved the Vienna Convention. It aims to protect the ozone layer in the atmosphere. The convention says that:

  • Delegations representing various states adopt an agreement providing for cooperation in the field of research on processes and substances that affect the ozone layer and have a provoking effect on changes in it.
  • Countries commit to systematic monitoring of the ozone layer.
  • Governments are working to create technologies and substances with unique properties that help minimize the harm to ozone in the atmosphere.
  • The countries undertake to cooperate in the development of measures and their use, as well as to ensure constant monitoring of activities that can provoke the formation of ozone holes.
  • Developed technologies and acquired knowledge of the country are transferred to each other.
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During the time that has passed since the adoption of the Vienna Convention, countries have signed many protocols to reduce the release of fluorochlorocarbons. At the same time, cases are stipulated when their production should be completely stopped.

Restoring the ozone layer

The causes and consequences of ozone depletion are well known. The biggest problem that entails danger is the technology used in the manufacture of refrigeration units. This period of time was sometimes even called the freon crisis. New developments required significant capital investments. This had a negative effect on production. However, a solution was found. It turned out that freons can be replaced by other substances. In addition to propane and butane gases, they turned out to be a hydrocarbon propellant. Today, installations that use endothermic chemical reactions are becoming widespread.

Ozone depletion
Picture: Dmytro Varavin | Dreamstime

There is also talk of restoring the ozone layer. According to physicists, the atmosphere of the planet can be cleaned of freons using a nuclear power plant with a capacity of at least 10 rBT. According to estimates, the Sun is capable of producing up to 6 tons of ozone per second, but its destruction is faster. If, to use power units as ozone factories, then it is possible to achieve a balance. That is, ozone will be created as much as it will be destroyed.

Ozone layer recharge

The ozone production project is not the only one. For example, according to scientists, ozone can be created artificially in the stratosphere. The same can be done in the atmosphere.

Feeding the stratosphere with artificially created ozone is proposed with the help of cargo planes that can spray this gas at the right heights.

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Ozone molecules can be obtained from ordinary oxygen using infrared lasers. Aerostats can be used for this.

If the use of a platform with lasers will provide a positive effect in solving the problem of ozone holes, then such devices can be placed on the space station. In this case, it is possible to ensure a constant supply of ozone.

The main drawback of all such developments is the price. The cost of any project is too high. It is because of this that a significant part of the projects are not implemented.


Billions of dollars have been spent to save the Earth’s ozone layer, or at least preserve it in the form in which it is now. Scientists have calculated that if any human activity (anthropogenic factors), which is the cause of the ozone holes, stops, it will take 100-200 years to restore it to its previous volume.