Did you remember?

Today, September 16th, 2013, is International Ozone Layer Day, aka International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer! Although probably not such a high-ranking date to remember for a lot of us as a birthday or anniversary, T3 cares about our environment, so we’re going to provide some insight into this oft-overlooked day.

Hole-in-the-Ozone-LayerThe ozone layer is in the lower portion of the Earth’s stratosphere, approximately 12 to 19 miles above the Earth’s surface. Although the thickness of the Ozone Layer varies seasonally and geographically, if all of the ozone were to be compressed to the pressure of air at sea level, the entire ozone layer would be approximately 3 millimeters thick, which is roughly the thickness of a man’s wedding band.

Ozone, by the way, is a gas comprised of 3 oxygen atoms, whereby the air we breathe consists of 2 oxygen atoms. The Ozone Layer protects life on Earth from the Sun’s radiation by absorbing 97-99% of UVA/UVB light. The Ozone Layer benefits humans by protecting us from skin cancer, cataracts, and damaged crops.

In 1985, while monitoring the stratosphere over Antarctica, scientists discovered a hole in the Earth’s Ozone Layer. By 1987, the hole had increased to the size of the continental U.S. On September 16, 1987, the UN General Assembly signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. This mandated that ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other harmful substances needed to be phased out by 2000.

Had CFCs and other harmful chemicals not been banned, it was estimated that the entire ozone layer could have been completely depleted by 2060. However, as a result of these regulations, scientists estimate that the depletion of the ozone layer may be completely reversed and the hole could possibly close up between 2030-2070.

So in case you forgot to mark your calendar this year, make sure you circle September 16, 2014 as an important date to remember… International Ozone Layer Day 2014!

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