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What is the function of the ozone layer?

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Quick Answer

The function of the ozone layer is to shield the Earth from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun and to keep the Earth warm. The ozone layer is composed of ozone, a molecule made up of three oxygen atoms bonded together.

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What is the function of the ozone layer?
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Full Answer

Most of the ozone on Earth accumulates in the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere between 15 and 30 kilometers above the Earth's surface. The ozone layer prevents the heat energy reflected by the Earth's surface from being re-radiated into space. This process traps heat on the Earth and keeps it warm.

Ozone is formed, broken apart and reformed on a consistent basis in the stratosphere; however, the total amount of ozone at any given time remains stable. When UV rays hit ozone molecules, they split the molecules, and the UV rays become harmless. Ultraviolet rays, namely UVB rays, can cause skin cancer and cataracts in humans as well as damage crops.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What does the ozone layer do?

    A:

    The ozone layer, also called the stratosphere, has a primary function of absorbing ultraviolet sunlight. The absorption of ultraviolet rays has many effects, such as atmospheric temperature regulation and protection of biological entities.

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  • Q:

    What are the effects of pollution on the ozone layer?

    A:

    One of the greatest and most dangerous effects of pollution on the ozone layer is that it creates holes in the atmosphere, which allow powerful ultraviolet rays from the sun to reach the Earth’s surface. Many varieties of atmospheric pollutants — toxic chemicals, synthetic substances, such as DDT, and manmade chemicals — enter the atmosphere. They may remain intact and linger for decades, even up to a century, which gives them time to create considerable damage to the atmosphere.

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  • Q:

    Why do we need the ozone layer?

    A:

    The ozone layer protects all living things on Earth by absorbing some of the harmful UV rays of the sun. UV radiation can cause skin cancer and eye damage.

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  • Q:

    What is the ozone layer made of?

    A:

    The ozone layer, which is part of the stratosphere, is comprised of the major atmospheric gases nitrogen, oxygen and argon, but also contains a significantly higher concentration of the trace gas ozone than the other layers of the atmosphere. The other trace gases include carbon dioxide, neon, helium, methane and the manmade chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. The CFCs reaching the stratosphere from the Earth's surface have become a cause for global concern because of the role they play in the chemical reaction that removes ozone from the atmosphere.

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