The ozone layer is a protective cover of our planet that protects everything under it from the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet radiations.
The ozone layer is in the lower part of the stratosphere [i.e. it extends approximately 15-35 kilometers (9-17 miles) from the surface of the planet].
According to new research, the ozone layer has taken alarming damage from the smokes of 2019 & 2020’s Australian bushfires that had darkened the sky and devoured more than half a billion wild lives, a report published in Science revealed.
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In 2020, researcher Peter Bernath of Old Dominion University, Norfolk along with his team studied the gathered data in the lower stratosphere using a satellite instrument called ACE (the Atmosphere Chemistry Experiment).
The instrument records how various particles in the atmosphere absorb light at different wavelengths, these patterns are like fingerprints of what’s happening above.
The researchers revealed that the smoke particles of Pyrocumulonimbus Clouds (fire-fueled thunderstorms) that reached the stratosphere had various harmful organic molecules.
And the molecules began a chain of chemical reactions that disrupted the balance of gases in the stratosphere to a level never before witnessed in 15 years of satellite observation.
There was a huge spike in levels of chlorine-containing molecules that were eventually eating away the ozone molecules of the ozone layer.
The scientists stated that due to the pollution on the surface, the ozone concentration was the lowest in 2020 (the worst ozone level) compared to the analysis from 2005.
Thanks to scientists and Montreal Protocol (an international agreement was established to reduce the atmospheric concentration of CFCs and other ozone-killing substances), the ozone layer was showing signs of recovery.
However, the changing climate and frequent forest fires and volcanic eruptions are threatening decades of effort to help heal the earth’s ozone layer.