September 16 is International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. This day is meant to promote awareness and celebrate efforts taken to restore the ozone layer to its original levels. The ozone layer shields the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun. Without it, radiation from the Sun can pass through our atmosphere and cause harm to all life on Earth. Scientists realized in the late 1970s that human activity was destroying the ozone layer. As a result, 28 countries agreed to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985. Their goal was to eliminate 99% of substances that caused the ozone layer to deteriorate. With this, the healing process could begin. If we stay on this path, the ozone layer will be restored by the year 2050.
What is the Ozone Layer?
Ozone can be found in two places in the atmosphere. In the stratosphere, radiation from the Sun turns oxygen into ozone. This makes the ozone layer. This layer protects living things from harmful radiation from the Sun. A tiny bit of the ozone from the ozone layer mixes into the lower atmosphere, in the troposphere. So, the troposphere has a tiny amount of ozone naturally.
How does the Ozone Layer affect Climate Change?
Human activities have caused more ozone to form in the troposphere. Ozone in the troposphere acts as a greenhouse gas. It traps radiation and leads to warming. The amount of ozone in the troposphere has more than doubled since humans have been building factories and cars. This increase is so much and so harmful due to its location that it plays an important role in climate change.
How can we help?
Ozone has a short residence time in the atmosphere. If people release less ozone into the lower atmosphere, than the amount of ozone left should lower quickly. Share this free reading passage on ozone, one of Earth’s greenhouse gases, with your students. Becoming familiar with ozone and its effects on climate change is the first step in helping to turn the tide.
- 1913 – The ozone layer is discovered by French physicists Charles Fabry and Henri Buisson.
- 1976 – Scientists discover the ozone layer is deteriorating.
- 1985 – The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer is signed.
- 1994 – The UN General Assembly assigns September 16 as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.
- 2050 – Projected year when the ozone layer will be restored to its 1980 levels.