Ozone depletion – Dobson unit, what is ozone Depletion, Facts and effects of ozone Depletion

Ozone layer is a region of Earth’s stratosphere that absorbs most of the Sun’s ultra violet radiation. The ozone layer is also called as the ozone shield and it acts as a protective shield, cutting the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun.

Just above the atmosphere there are two layers namely troposphere (the lower layer) and stratosphere (the upper layer). The ozone layer of the troposphere is called bad ozone and the ozone layer of stratosphere is known as good ozone because this layer acts as a shield for absorbing the UV radiations coming from the sun which is harmful for living organisms causing DNA damage. The thickness of the ozone column of air from the ground to the top of the atmosphere is measured in terms of Dobson Units.

The ozone shield is being damaged by chemicals released on the Earth’s surface notably the chlorofluorocarbons widely used in refrigeration, aerosols, chemicals used as cleaners in many industries. The decline in the thickness of the ozone layer over restricted area is called Ozone hole.

Ozone depletion in the stratosphere results in more UV radiations especially UV B radiations (shortwaves). UV B radiation destroys biomolecules (skin ageing) and damages living tissues. UV – C is the most damaging type of UV radiation, but it is completely filtered by the atmosphere (ozone layer). UV – a contribute 95% of UV radiation which causes tanning burning of skin and enhancing skin cancer. Hence the uniform ozone layer is critical for the wellbeing of life on earth. During 1970’s research findings indicated that man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) reduce and convert ozone molecules in the atmosphere. The threats associated with reduced ozone pushed the issue to the forefront of global climate issues and gained promotion through organisation such as World Meterological Organisation and the United Nations. The Vienna Convention was agreed upon at the Vienna conference of 1985 but entered into force in 1988 provided the frameworks necessary to create regulative measures in the form of the Montreal protocol. The International treaty called the Montreal Protocol (1987) was held in Canada on substances that deplete ozone layer and the main goal of it is gradually eliminating the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances and to limit their damage on the Earth’s ozone layer.

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is defined in the Kyoto protocol (2007) which provides project based mechanisms with two objectives to prevent dangerous climate change and to reduce green house gas emissions. CDM projects helps the countries to reduce or limit emission and stimulate sustainable development. An example for CDM project activity, is replacement of conventional electrification projects with solar panels or other energy efficient boilers. Such projects can earn Certified Emission Reduction (CER) with credits / scores, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, which can be counted towards meeting Kyoto targets.

Effects of Ozone depletion

The main ozone depletion effects are:

• Increases the incidence of cataract, throat and lung irritation and aggravation of asthma or emphysema, skin cancer and diminishing the functioning of immune system in human beings.

• Juvenile mortality of animals.

• Increased incidence of mutations.

• In plants, photosynthetic chemicals will be affected and therefore photosynthesis will be inhibited. Decreased photosynthesis will result in increased atmospheric CO2 resulting in global warming and also shortage of food leading to food crisis.

• Increase in temperature changes the climate and rainfall pattern which may result in f lood / drought, sea water rise, imbalance in ecosystems affecting flora and fauna

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