The Ozone Layer

Where the ozone goes, everyone knows. This is thanks, in part, to two instruments onboard the Aura satellite that track ozone in our atmosphere: the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) and the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS). The ozone layer protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

In the 1980s, scientists noticed that at the start of spring in the Southern hemisphere, a region of heavily-depleted ozone was appearing over the South Pole and Antarctica – this is now known as the “ozone hole,” even though it’s not strictly a hole. We have since discovered that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in refrigerators, air conditioners and aerosol cans in years gone by, as well as other chlorine- and bromine-containing compounds, are to blame for hacking away at the ozone layer – most notably over Antarctica, but also over the rest of the world.

Icon image credit: NASA

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