Geoengineering the Ozone Layer Hole: A Rising Necessity

ByDavid Stephen

The ozone layer is a layer of gas present in an upper part of the atmosphere called the stratosphere; the ozone layer is mostly found around 9 – 21 miles above sea level. It is useful for life and protects us from ultraviolet (UV) radiation harmful to our health. Dangers of continuous exposure to harmful UV rays include immune system suppression, skin cancer, and cataracts.

Depletion was observed in the ozone layer in late 1970s, which studies say is caused by gases known as ozone depleting substances (ODSs). These substances are used in utilities like refrigerators, fire extinguishers, and aerosols. When they are released and escape to the stratosphere, they prompt reactions with ozone gas a creating a wide depletion in the ozone.

An international agreement in 1987 in Montreal, Canada, bars the use of these gases and encourages that they are replaced with substances that are not harmful to the ozone layer. This agreement, known as the Montreal Protocol, makes the world see ozone layer depletion as a settled environmental issue.

The layer of the atmosphere below the ozone layer is located from the sea level up and is known as the troposphere; this is where heat trapping gases concentrate to trap heat to the earth's surface. Global warming occurs principally from the troposphere where anthropogenic emissions join natural Green House Gases (GHGs) to collectively trap more heat to the earth surface.

Global warming is said to be responsible for several environmental effects like floods, wild fires, and more. Many believe the solution for global warming is curbing CO2 emissions. But this can only be done if it is binding for nations.

Geoengineering is seen as another option to curb global warming, especially if curbing emissions is not possible. Geoengineering involves intentional manipulation of the Earth's climate system to prevent excesses that may be responsible for warming on the Earth's surface. Geoengineering received attention after British scientists introduced a project and the U.S. Bipartisan Policy Center submitted a report on some of the possible geoengineering procedures that could take place.

Many believe geoengineering may have consequences that are too harsh for our fragile climate system. Proponents of this procedures believe that if the experiment is carried out and the unexpected happens, it can be halted immediately, but geoengineering may just be the solution that we need.

Geoengineering may come sooner or later if global warming clearly puts the environment in danger. This determines whether the geoengineering procedures are implemented before are after they are tested for safety. 

Geoengineering for global warming may further deplete the ozone layer, causing more harm than good, according to some scientists. However, this should not stop a procedure that will help planet Earth from the risks faced by global warming.

report presents the possibility of geoengineering the ozone layer by injecting oxygen gas to depleted parts of the ozone layer. Oxygen molecules, oxygen atoms, and ozone molecules are continually reacting in the presence of UV light in the ozone layer as reactions that protect from harmful UV rays. Oxygen can be produced in large quantities, stored as liquid, and discharged as gas at that level; submitting preference for oxygen is practically difficult for ozone gas.

Aerodyne and aerostats can be used to convey oxygen in a move to close the depleted part of the ozone layer and save the planet from harmful UV radiations. The importance of this geoengineering procedure may clear in some years from now, and it is not likely to have major consequences. Gases will be added to a layer of gas and this should not upset the balance of gases at that level. This research is developing and should be ready for use in a few years.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons