Ozone Depletion

Katelyn E

7th Grade





Research Paper


Ozone Depletion

    Ozone depletion is the breakdown of ozone molecules in the stratosphere, an event that could lead to the extinction of life on Earth. Throughout the media, ozone depletion (most commonly referred to as the “ozone hole”) is frequently discussed. Rumors fly as to why the hole is created and who’s at fault for the damage. With all the opinions on whether ozone depletion happens because of man, occurs naturally, or even occurs at all, one may wonder: What is ozone depletion? How does it affect life on Earth? Research shows that the depletion of ozone, occurring as a result of both human and natural actions, is destroying the Earth and causing harm to humans, plants, and animals.

As a prerequisite to understanding the damage caused to the ozone layer, the components of ozone must be analyzed. Ozone is an irritating, gradually destructive, colorless gas. It smells slightly of burning electrical wire (Sparling) and has a tinge of blue color (Morgan). Ozone is created when oxygen molecules separate because of either energetic electrons or radiation with high energy (Sparling). 

    Much of the Earth’s ozone lies in the ozone layer, high above the Earth. As its name indicates, the ozone layer is a layer made up of the components of ozone. The ozone layer absorbs ninety-seven to ninety-nine percent of the Earth’s ultraviolet light, light that comes from the sun and is dangerous to life on Earth (Sparling). Despite the ozone layer’s presence, ultraviolet light is still illuminating our planet. This is partly because harmful chemicals used in industry and manufacturing easily damage ozone and the ozone layer. These chemicals are known as CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons. Some scientists argue that the ozone depletion is unrelated to chemicals. Instead, they rely on the theory that the ozone layer is depleted because of natural causes. The debate on the existence and or reasons for ozone depletion still goes on today (Morgan). 

Ozone destruction is not visible to the human eye. To study the ozone layer, scientists use satellites (Edmonds). From these satellites, scientists learn how much of the ozone layer is being lost by constantly measuring the area and depth of the hole in the ozone. Advancements in technology affect how scientists study the ozone hole (Calamai).

    Although often referred to as the “ozone hole”, in reality, there is no actual hole in the ozone. Scientists refer to the ozone hole because half or more of the ozone layer is destroyed (Edmonds).  The hole only occurs when the polar regions have seasonally-reduced ozone amounts (Hazen). This change happens during the southern hemisphere’s winter, from August to October. Without more ozone, a “hole” is created.

References to the ozone hole may be focused on either of two locations: In the stratosphere, or at the affected place on Earth. The ozone hole is located in the stratosphere, which is between six and twenty-five kilometers above the Earth. On Earth, scientists refer to the ozone hole as affecting Antarctica. The ozone hole also appears over the Arctic, but is less damaging because Arctic air is not as cold as Antarctic air, and therefore does not have the reduced ozone amounts (The Ozone Hole).

Credit for the discovery of the ozone hole, in 1985, goes to scientist Dr. Joseph Forman. By this time, people had already discovered that the ozone layer was being damaged, but Forman informed people how much damage was actually being done. Some scientists had previously attempted to spread the message focusing on the effects of CFCs. Alas, this message was not well-spread and did not have much of an impact (Morgan).

Once Dr. Forman alerted people of his discovery, people around the world began to eliminate CFCs to protect Earth. In 1987, seventy nations signed the Montreal Protocol, a document that would stop countries from producing CFCs. The goal in creating this document was to eliminate the creation of CFCs by the year 2000 (Hazen). Sweden was the first country to sign the document, and officially banned the production of CFCs in the year 1994. Even though countries had not produced new amounts of CFCs, already-manufactured products that used CFCs were still in use (Morgan).

Despite the actions taken against the harm in the ozone layer, a great deal of damage had already been done, as Dr. Forman explained. In 1994, the hole was four percent of Earth’s surface, bigger than the size of Europe (Edmonds).  In 1999, scientists discovered that ozone was being destroyed twice as fast as it was in the previous ten years (Morgan). Then, in 2006, the hole in the ozone layer beat its own record size since 2000, according to the United Nations’ weather agency. By then, the hole had grown to 29.5 million square kilometers. The previous record, from September 2000, had been 29.4 million square kilometers. Over the years, the hole has gotten deeper and larger (Calamai).

Since the hole was discovered, scientists in Antarctica have been monitoring the hole at a location known as the B.A.S. station. Year round, information is collected at this station. Scientists have used other methods to track the hole, including weather balloons and satellites (Edmonds).  Satellites are used to take a closer look at the ozone layer, as it helps reveal how much ultraviolet light is radiating Earth. The first satellite to measure the ozone layer launched in 1978 and was called the Nimbus-7 (Morgan).  From all these advancements in technology, scientists have deduced that the ozone layer will be replenished fifteen years later than originally inferred, dating back to 2065. That is, if humans take good care of the ozone layer (Calamai).

Most scientists around the world believe that ozone is depleted because of human activity. CFCs are considered the largest man-made reason for ozone depletion. One might wonder: If these CFCs were so problematic, why would anyone create them? CFCs were invented in the 1920s. They were first used in spray (aerosol) cans, cooling liquids in refrigerators, and air conditioning systems (Morgan). In those years, CFCs were extremely popular, as they were relatively inexpensive, nontoxic, and could be shipped in massive quantities (Hazen).

As much as chemicals are used every day in manufacturing, one might wonder what makes CFCs any different. CFCs are made up of chlorine, fluorine, and carbon (Saving). When they are exposed to the sun, they release chlorine atoms (Edmonds), which slowly drift upwards to the stratosphere, taking as much as ten years to arrive. When a CFC molecule reaches the ozone layer, it can destroy as many as 100,000 ozone molecules, breaking down the ozone layer (Morgan). This exposes the earth to more UV light (Ozone).

Though CFCs are a major part of ozone depletion, it is not the only source to blame. Other man-made causes include aircraft engines, which contain nitrogen oxides that speed up the breakdown of ozone. Space shuttles release hydrogen chloride, the gas found in volcanic eruptions, which can also be damaging. Pesticides and cleaning agents also result in ozone depletion, since a chemical in them known as methyl bromide can destroy ozone forty times more effectively than CFCs. All of these man-made creations continually harm our environment (Morgan).

Natural causes, in the opinion of some scientists, are the sole reason for ozone depletion. Natural causes for ozone depletion include stratospheric sulfate aerosols (volcanic eruptions), high stratospheric winds, greenhouse gases, lightning, and forest fires. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about these natural causes (Sparling).

Ozone depletion drastically changes life on Earth in a negative way. Although it is true that humans require some ultraviolet light in order to produce Vitamin D, a chemical that creates healthy bones, too much UV light is harmful. The first sign of too much UV light reaching the human body is sunburn. If the light continues to reach the body, cancer cells will develop and eventually grow out of control (Morgan).  In fact, experts agree that a one percent decrease of ozone can lead to a three percent increase in skin cancer and melanoma in humans. People with fairer skin are more affected by UV rays because they do not have as much pigment as people with darker skin. This pigment can help protect against skin cancer. The increase of UV rays can also cause eye problems, such as cataracts (Edmonds) or “snow blindness”, which is when a person may seem to see non-existent snow falling. It may also lead to a weaker immune system or damage DNA. Humans must take in ultraviolet light in moderation (Morgan).

Just as UV light causes problems for humans, animals and plants are affected as well. Animals, especially cattle and sheep, can also suffer from similar eye and skin problems (Morgan). This light can also kill phytoplankton, a food source for many marine animals. If this species becomes extinct, the whole food chain could be disrupted. As far as plants, too much UV light can stunt their growth (Edmonds), cause sunburn to leaves, or even result in tissue damage (Saving).

In conclusion, humans must do all that they can to stop ozone depletion (Saving). People can help stop ozone depletion by using ozone-friendly aerosol cans, or pump-action sprays. They can also use ozone-friendly refrigerators, and dispose of toxic waste at specific dumping sites (Morgan). People are also using alternative fuels to replace CFCs, such as hydrocarbons, which are more economical than CFCs (Saving). Because of ozone depletion, people are uniting around the world. After all, there is only one Earth; we must preserve its beauty.  













Fine Art Connection


Painting for sale In august rays, realism landscape paintings, Amsterdam Art Gallery

This painting, known as “In August Rays”, indirectly shows information about my topic. In the picture, the sun’s rays are beating down upon our planet. This is to show that a large amount of UV rays are shining on the earth. It also tells a story that although the sun seems innocent enough, the danger is disguised. This is because, although people appreciate the warmth of the sun, it may be harming the people basking in its rays. This thought comes to mind in the artwork, because it shows an overall friendly setting, but symbolizes the damage of ozone depletion. The artist, Korobow Vadim, is a professional artist with previous painting experience. Finding the meaning in this painting is part of its beauty.

     Title of Panting:“In August Rays”

Painted By:  Korobow Vadim 

Painting Date: Unknown        

URL: http://www.amsterdam-artgallery.com/korobow_vadim/in_august_rays.html   








Poetry Connection


Fire In the Heavens
Fire in the heavens, and fire along the hills,
and fire made solid in the flinty stone,
thick-mass'd or scatter'd pebble, fire that fills
the breathless hour that lives in fire alone.

This valley, long ago the patient bed
of floods that carv'd its antient amplitude,
in stillness of the Egyptian crypt outspread,
endures to drown in noon-day's tyrant mood.

Behind the veil of burning silence bound,
vast life's innumerous busy littleness
is hush'd in vague-conjectured blur of sound
that dulls the brain with slumbrous weight, unless

Some dazzling puncture let the stridence throng
in the cicada's torture-point of song.


          This poem metaphorically relates to ozone depletion. In the poem, when it refers to fire, it is intended in my case that the fire is sunlight (UV rays) that are shining on Earth. They spread quickly and reach almost every corner and inch of Earth’s surface. Although the poem is talking about a beautiful thing, such as the sun, it has a sad meaning. This is the same as how UV light is being let into our Earth, and how the ozone layer is being damaged. The writer, Christopher Brennan, was a famous poet who lived from the year 1870 to 1932. Brennan’s words live on, however, explaining the event of ozone depletion.

Poem Title: “Fire in the Heavens”

Poet: Christopher Brennan

Date of Creation: Unknown

URL: http://www.lovepoems.me.uk/brennan_fire_in_the_heavens.htm








Music Connection




Lyrics to Reptar, King Of The Ozone:
Bring it to your lips and experience
The sulfur infect everything that we've created.
Don't twist this around.
Don't attempt to justify what we know is wrong.
Tendons are torn and screams are released
Into a poisoned, mathematic atmosphere.


We're composing our funeral songs, note, (note) note by note. (by note)
We're composing our funeral songs, note, (note) note by note. (by note)

With this I declare that tomorrow is an allusion.

What if the clouds are, are fragments of mistakes,
Fabricated by the factors of our foolishness?

We're composing our funeral songs, note (note) note by note. (by note)
We're composing our funeral songs, note (note) note by note.
Prove me wrong (3x)


          The song, “Reptar, King of the Ozone”, is a song by the band, The Devil Wears Prada. They perform music in heavy metal/thrash genre. This lyrical performance is directly related to my topic. The song addresses a struggling, damaged atmosphere, and the fact that it is negatively affecting life on Earth. It shows that humans are at fault for at least some of the problems in our environment. The song also tells of the deadly consequences of the damaged environment, if they are ignored. When this song comes to mind, so does a damaged environment.

Song Name: “Reptar, King of the Ozone”

Artist:  The Devil Wears Prada

Album Release Date: 2007

Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsE1llPoZ6Y





Photography Connection


Photo: Wikimedia/Levi Siuzdak

          This photograph shows one of the many causes of ozone depletion. In the picture, various CFC cans are shown. CFCs are the main man-made of ozone depletion. This photo shows the various cans, and also shows what aerosol cans are. It shows the containers in which CFCs are stored. The photographer, Levi Siuzdak, is an amateur photographer. She owns her deserved rights to this photo, as the photographer. This photo helps to explain how ozone depletion is created.

Photograph Title: “Spray Cans”

Photographer: Levi Siuzdak

Date of Creation: November 18, 2008

URL: http://teenhealth.about.com/od/substanceuse/ig/In       halant-Gallery/Spray-Cans.htm










Calamai, Finkel, and Robin McKie. "Antarctic Ozone Hole Bigger  

     than Ever." Cosmo Magazine. Luna Media Pty Ltd, 4 Oct. 2006.

     Web. 11 Jan. 2010.

Edmonds, Alex. The Ozone Hole. Illus. Tessa Barwick, et al. Ed.
     Selina Wood. Brookfield, Conneticut: Copper Beech, 1997.

Hazen, Robert M. The Joy of Science Part 5. The Teaching Co.,

     2001. DVD.

Morgan, Sally. The Ozone Hole. Connecticut: Watts,

     1999. Print.

"Ozone Hole." The World Book Encyclopedia. 2008 ed. 2008. Print.
"Saving the Ozone Layer." Ebsco Host. N.p., 7 Sept. 2009. Web.
     13 Jan. 2010.

Sparling, Brien. "The Ozone Layer." Nas.Nasa.Gov. Jill Dunbar,

     30 May 2001. Web. 11 Jan. 2010.

"The Ozone Hole."  Theozonehole.com. The Ozone Hole Inc. N.p.,
     11 Jan. 2010. Web. 11 Jan. 2010.