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Home / Science / News /  Ozone layer depletion has a new cause and its not CFC. Read here to find out
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While climate change continues to govern alterations in seasons and disasters as we knew it, a recent study published in Nature Geosciences has said that Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) might not be the sole reason why the Ozone layer in our atmosphere is getting depleted. Over the years scientists have pinned methane, a common greenhouse gas to be a troublemaker, apart from CFCs. However, there is a new suspect in town. 

Researchers from 20 countries, including the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, in collaboration with Extreme Environments Research Laboratory, Switzerland, The Cyprus Institute, and NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory, collaborated to analyse the changes in the Arctic

The researchers found that the chemical reactions between Iodine and Ozone were the second highest contributor to the loss of surface Ozone.

Their findings have been published in the journal Nature Geosciences after the observations were conducted by the researchers during the ship-based Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition. The new findings are set to change the decades-old paradigm on the drivers of Arctic photochemical Ozone loss.

Read below for detailed understanding

What is Ozone layer?

According to the World Meteorological Department, Ozone is a form of oxygen with molecules carrying three atoms instead of two and acts as a shield protecting us against harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.

The Ozone layer is found in the troposphere, the lower 10 kilometers of the atmosphere, and in the stratosphere that extends 10-50 km above the ground.

What damage does Ozone Hole do?

The ozone hole is not technically a “hole" where no ozone is present, but is actually a region of exceptionally depleted ozone in the stratosphere over the Antarctic that happens at the beginning of Southern Hemisphere spring (August–October).

The ozone layer prevents harmful wavelengths of ultraviolet (UVB) light from passing through the Earth's atmosphere. These wavelengths cause skin cancer, sunburn, permanent blindness, and cataracts,[4] which were projected to increase dramatically as a result of thinning ozone, as well as harming plants and animals.

What is depleting Ozone?

The main causes of ozone depletion and the ozone hole are manufactured chemicals, especially manufactured halocarbon refrigerants, solvents, propellants, and foam-blowing agents (chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), HCFCs, halons), referred to as ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

How does Iodine damage Ozone?

The team of researchers conducted observations from March to October 2020 on a ship in the high Arctic region and found that Iodine enhances springtime tropospheric Ozone depletion. They developed a chemical model to show that chemical reactions between Iodine and Ozone are the second highest contributor to the loss of surface Ozone.

The study further noted that atmospheric increase in Iodine loading due to enhanced anthropogenic Ozone-induced ocean Iodine emissions, as well as the thinning and shrinking of Arctic sea ice expected in the near future, will probably lead to increases in Iodine emissions.

"These results indicate that iodine chemistry could play an increasingly important role in the future and must be considered for accurate quantification of the ozone budget in the Arctic," IITM said in a release.

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