1. chemical reactions in atmosphere

Chemical Reactions in the Atmosphere

Each year since the mid-1970s, scientists have noted a disappearance of approximately 70% of the ozone (O3) layer above Antarctica during the Antarctic spring, creating what is commonly known as the “ozone hole.” Ozone is an unstable form of oxygen that consists of three oxygen atoms bonded together. In September 2009, the Antarctic ozone hole reached 24.1 million km2 (9.3 million mi2), about the size of North America. The largest area ever recorded was in the year 2000, when the hole measured 29.9 million km2 and for the first time extended over a populated area—the city of Punta Arenas, Chile (population 154,000; Figure a “Satellite Photos of Earth Reveal the Sizes of the Antarctic Ozone Hole over Time”). A less extensive zone of depletion has been detected over the Arctic as well. Years of study from the ground, from the air, and from satellites in space have shown that chlorine from industrial chemicals used in spray cans, foam packaging, and refrigeration materials is largely responsible for the catalytic depletion of ozone through a series of condensation, cleavage, and oxidation–reduction reactions.

Figure ‘a’ Satellite Photos of Earth Reveal the Sizes of the Antarctic Ozone Hole over Time

Dark blue colors correspond to the thinnest ozone; light blue, green, yellow, orange, and red indicate progressively thicker ozone. In September 2000, the Antarctic ozone hole briefly approached a record 30 million km2.

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