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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

8 - Stratospheric ozone depletion


“If all the ozone in the atmosphere were compressed to a pressure corresponding to that at the Earth's surface, the layer would be only 3 mm [1/8 inch] thick … The thin ozone lafyer has proved to be an Achilles heel that may be seriously injured by apparently moderate changes in the composition of the atmosphere.”

Swedish Academy of Sciences, announcing the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry to Mario Molina, F. Sherwood Rowland, and Paul Crutzen

You are aware of the major pollution problems resulting from combustion, especially of fossil fuels. In this chapter we see a global issue – destruction of stratospheric ozone – which results from CFCs and halons, synthetic chemicals. Depletion of stratospheric ozone led to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the first worldwide agreement to protect the environment. The ban on ozone-depleting chemicals is largely working, and the ozone layer is expected to recover, albeit slowly. Before starting Chapter 8, see Table 8.1 An ozone-depletion snapshot. ▪ Section I looks at the atmosphere, and reactions in the stratosphere including CFC destruction, and ozone creation and destruction. It examines ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and asks if all ozone-depleting pollutants are equally potent. And does ozone depletion result in measurable increases in UV radiation reaching Earth? After a brief history of ozone depletion, Section II asks: what are the pollutants of concern, how do they destroy ozone, and what is their environmental fate? Over what sections of Earth does ozone depletion occur? Why is the Antarctic particularly susceptible?

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Further reading
Hobe, M. Atmospheric science: revisiting ozone depletion. Science, 318(5858), December 21, 2007, 1878–1879.
Wuebbles, D. J. Atmosphere: nitrous oxide: no laughing matter (impact in global warming and in stratospheric ozone depletion). Science, 326, October 2, 2009, 56–57.
Internet resources
Fergusson, A. Ozone depletion and climate change: understanding the linkages. Meteorological Service of Canada.
Fergusson, A.Gleason, K. L. 2008. Ozone depletion. NOAA. (March 20, 2008).
,Global Environment Campaign (1997–2009) (environmental investigation agency examines threats to ozone layer).
Hoffman, D. J. and Montzka, S. S. The NOAA Ozone Depleting Gas Index. NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory.
,NOAA Chemical Sciences Division. NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory.
,NOAA Chemical Sciences Division 2008. Stratospheric ozone, monitoring and research. (March 20, 2008).
Parson, R. 1997. Ozone Depletion FAQ PART I: Introduction to the ozone layer. (December 24, 1997). Part I deals with basic questions about the ozone layer; Part II with sources of stratospheric chlorine and bromine; Part III with the Antarctic ozone hole; and Part IV with the properties and effects of ultraviolet radiation.
Slanina, S. 2007. Antarctic ozone hole. The Encyclopedia of Earth. (December 18, 2007).
,UNEP. 2002. Environmental effects of ozone depletion and its interaction with climate change. The Environmental Effects Assessment Panel Report.
,UNEP. 2008. Illegal trade in ozone depleting substances.
,UNEP. 2009. Vital ozone graphics.
,US EPA. 1995. Stratospheric ozone depletion (early useful document on EPA's research) (March 1995)
,US EPA 2006. Why is the ozone hole over Antarctica? (March, 2006).
,US EPA 2007. Dispelling the myths of ozone layer depletion. (October 4, 2006).
,US EPA 2007. Ozone-depleting potentials of substances (a table). (October 4, 2007).
,US EPA 2007. The effects of ozone layer depletion. (October 4, 2007).
,US EPA 2008. Current state of the ozone layer. (September 11, 2008).
,US EPA 2008. Ozone (ground-level and stratospheric). (June 12, 2008).
,US EPA 2008. Ozone depletion glossary. (May 9, 2008).
,US EPA 2008. Ozone Layer: ozone layer depletion: quick finder. (June 12, 2008).
,US EPA 2008. SunWise Glossary (Protect yourself from overexposure to the sun). January 3, 2008).
,US EPA 2009. Report on the environment: ozone depletion. (March 14, 2009).
,US NASA 2002. Stratospheric ozone depletion, educational resources. (August 4, 2002).
,US NASA 2007. Thompson, T. NASA keeps eye on ozone layer amid Montreal Protocol's success. (September 14, 2007).
,US NASA 2009. Ozone-hole watch, ozone-hole maps. (April 5, 2009).
,US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2008. Stratospheric ozone: monitoring and research in NOAA. (March 20, 2008).
,US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2009. Hoffman, D. J. and Montzka, S. S. NOAA ozone depleting gas index: guiding recovery of the ozone layer.
,US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2009. Regions of the atmosphere. (March 20, 2009).