Ozone Hole

Ozone Hole

In 1980 atmospheric scientists working in Antarctica reported about depletion of ozone layer commonly known as ozone hole over the South Pole. It was found that unique set of conditions was responsible for the ozone hole. In summer season, nitrogen dioxide and methane react with chlorine monoxide and chlorine atoms forming chlorine sinks, preventing much ozone depletion, whereas in winter, special type of clouds called polar stratospheric clouds are formed over Antarctica. These polar stratospheric clouds provide surface on which chlorine nitrate formed gets hydrolysed to form hypochlorous acid. It also reacts with hydrogen chloride produced as per reaction to give molecular chlorine.
Ozone Hole

When sunlight returns to the Antarctica in the spring, the sun’s warmth breaks up the clouds and HOCl and Cl2 are photolysed by sunlight, as given in reactions.

The chlorine radicals thus formed, initiate the chain reaction for ozone depletion as described earlier.

Effect of Depletion of the Ozone layer

With the depletion of ozone layer, more UV radiation filters into troposphere. UV radiations lead to ageing of skin, cataract, sunburn, skin cancer, killing of many phytoplanktons, damage o fish productivity etc. It has also been reported that plan proteins get easily affected by UV radiations which leads to the harmful mutation of cells. It also increases evaporation of surface water through the stomata of the leaves and decreases the moisture content of the soil. Increase in UV radiations damage paints and fibers, causing them to fade faster.


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