Hey, remember me? The ozone layer. Miss me?

So the ozone layer is back in the news after a decade or so of near nonexistence, newswise.

Ozone layer folks say March was a very bad month for the ozone layer, particularly over the Arctic Circle. Global warming conspiracy theorists will jump all over this:  Colder than usual atmospheric air apparently is contributing to the problem.

The depletion occurred in the stratosphere several miles up, according to the Montreal Gazette. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 percent of the ozone over the Arctic Circle has disappeared, and apparently the hole has migrated toward Europe.

If the hole is still there in June, those fair-skinned Scandinavians will cook like ribs on the barbie. Only I bet they’re not as tasty. I’d be willing to give caribou a shot, though.

Ozone is a funny thing. It’s pretty simple, as molecules go: three oxygen atoms bonded together.  The beneficial oxygen is O2, two oxygen atoms. O3 is not so good to breathe, which is why it’s considered a health hazard and a pollutant when it accumulates in large quantities in the lower atmosphere on hot summer days. Hence those ozone alerts in urban areas when it gets hot and the air isn’t circulating much.

In the stratosphere, ozone is beneficial and, in fact, necessary to protect life on Earth from bombardment of ultraviolet radiation. That’s the stuff that gives us sunburns, makes us wrinkly and gives us skin cancer if we have too much of it.

But for a while there, as anti-CFC laws took hold and reduced the amount of chemicals being released into the atmosphere to deplete the ozone, the ol’ ozone kinda fell off the front page. After all, we had 9/11 and wars and market collapses and global warming and other stuff to fret and fuss about.

Unfortunately, those ozone-depleting chemicals like the aerosol propellants and the old refrigerant freon are still out there damaging the ozone.

But, knock-knock, guess who’s baa-a-a-a-ack?  Our old friend ozone.


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