Shop Windows to the Universe

Arches National Park Geology Tour provides an extensive, visually rich description of the geology of Arches, by Deborah Ragland, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
Ozone concentrations over Antarctica in October 1979 and October 2008. The ozone hole is the large purple and blue area in the 2008 image.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy NASA.

Ozone Hole

The Ozone Hole is a major "thinning" of the ozone layer in Earth's atmosphere. It was first noticed in the late 1970s. The hole appears in the winter over the poles, especially the South Pole. Various chemicals that humans release into the atmosphere help cause the hole. Special weather patterns near the poles in winter also help cause the holes to form.

Ozone in the stratosphere protects us from ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. The ozone layer is sort of like sunscreen for planet Earth. That's why holes in the ozone layer are bad news.

Ozone is an unusual type of oxygen molecule. Normally, there are higher concentrations of ozone at various altitudes in the stratosphere. Sometimes, under the right conditions, chemical reactions in the ozone layer can destroy most of the ozone, creating an ozone "hole".

People from many countries have agreed to stop emitting most of the chemicals that destroy ozone. Scientists are hopeful that ozone holes will disappear sometime in the future if we continue to stop emissions of the problematic chemicals.

Last modified February 27, 2009 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Antarctic Weather

Antarctica is the southernmost continent on Earth, and since it’s home to the South Pole it is probably no surprise that the weather here is very cold—in fact, Antarctica is quite a bit colder than even...more

The Polar Atmosphere

Phenomena in the Polar Atmosphere There are some unique phenomena that happen in the atmosphere that is above the Earth's polar regions. Read on to discover more about some of the unique parts of the polar...more

Ozone in the Stratosphere

About 90% of the ozone in the Earth's atmosphere lies in the region called the stratosphere which is found between 16 and 48 kilometers (10 and 30 miles) above the Earth's surface. Ozone forms a kind of...more

Ozone

Ozone is a special kind of oxygen molecule. Normal oxygen molecules (O2), the kind we need to breathe, have two oxygen atoms. Ozone molecules (O3) have three oxygen atoms. Ozone forms when a photon of...more

Oxygen

Oxygen is a chemical element with an atomic number of 8 (it has eight protons in its nucleus). Oxygen forms a chemical compound (O2) of two atoms which is a colorless gas at normal temperatures and pressures....more

Air Pollution

What do smog, acid rain, carbon monoxide, fossil fuel exhausts, and tropospheric ozone have in common? They are all examples of air pollution. Air pollution is not new. As far back as the 13 th century,...more

Rainbows

Rainbows appear in the sky when there is bright sunlight and rain. Sunlight is known as visible or white light and is actually a mixture of colors. Rainbows result from the refraction and reflection of...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF