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The ozone layer is a layer of gas present in the upper atmosphere useful for protection against harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The ozone layer is important to life and the overall climate balance on planet earth. The ozone layer is found in the stratosphere about 19 – 48 km above sea level where reactions occur for this protection.
In late 1970’s, a large depleted part (or hole) was observed in the ozone layer over Antarctica; ensuing studies showed that certain gases called ozone depleting substances (ODSs) were responsible. ODSs were used in some of man’s utilities until an international agreement, the Montreal Protocol barred their use.
Ozone depletion makes the news time and time again because it shows up in the atmosphere over certain places at different times and seasons yearly. Even with adherence to the Montreal Protocol, it is posited that the ozone layer will return to pre-1980 levels around 2050.
This time is far because harmful UV radiation ozone holes allow to penetrate is hazardous to plants and to humans causing skin cancer, cataracts and immune system suppression on increased exposure. The ozone hole is linked to climate change in some studies and may cause more harm to life and the environment before expected date of repair.
In comparing global warming and ozone depletion, we all know that the major solution to global warming is mitigation of Green House (GHG) emissions but a deal like the Montreal Protocol that should enforce caution against GHGs is yet to be ratified by nations. This delay in having the deal and increase in anthropogenic emissions that will lead to average temperature increase invites geoengineering as a quick fix to avoid dangerous effects of global warming predicted to follow.
Geoengineering can be described as the intentional manipulation of the earth climate system to cushion the effects of climate change. Geoengineering is seen as a way out from global warming effects because of protraction in having a deal.
Geoengineering for global warming basically involves two solutions Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) or Solar Radiation Management (SRM). There are several proposals to these and are developing before hopeful deployment. Ozone Layer Geoengineering (OLG) is concerned with repair of the ozone layer and it involves sending an aerodynamic object to the stratosphere to discharge a major component of the reactions involved for protection i.e. oxygen gas.
This discharge will add to the number of molecules available for reactions and join in reactions at the stratosphere. OLG, SRM or CDR does not take away the need for caution in use of harmful gases from here, but will serve as a fix to avoid disastrous effects when needed.
Geoengineering is basically seen as a future project but may be closer than thought since nations are taking steps to have certain projects from their soil to the atmosphere. TheUK,Mongoliaand some others are looking to deploy geoengineering in the near term.
This may come for solutions but are also primary studies to know how much effect the procedures will have in future deployment. Ozone layer geoengineering is a preliminary research for now, but has prospects since it is directed to mimic natural processes there to save the earth from harmful UV radiations.
By David Stephen
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