Ozone Definition

by Laurent Cousineau
(Montreal)

Ozone (O3) is the triatomic form of oxygen.

First and foremost, ozone plays an important role in our atmosphere.

Essentially, ozone is created in the troposphere by photochemical reactions originating from both natural sources and human activities.

When concentrations of ozone rise, they pose a serious threat to a significant amount of organisms across the globe.

Ozone in the Troposphere and Stratosphere

Also, ozone plays a different role depending on its location within the atmosphere.

For instance, ozone acts as a greenhouse gas in the troposphere.

On the other hand, ozone is crucial for radiative balance in the stratosphere by forming the ozone layer.

Within the stratosphere, ozone is created as a result of the various interactions between solar ultraviolet radiation and the diatomic oxygen (O2) already present in the atmosphere.

Depletion of Ozone

However, the depletion of stratospheric ozone will increase the ground-level flux of ultraviolet radiation, thereby causing a greater risk of skin cancer and cataracts worldwide.

Furthermore, the chemical reactions that are responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer may be in fact enhanced by climate change.

Read more about ozone layer holes and its ties to climate change at The Ozone Layer Crisis.

Greenhouse Gases

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