Describe the formation of the ozone layer.
The ozone layer forms in the Earth’s stratosphere primarily through the interaction of solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation with oxygen molecules (O2). UV radiation breaks apart O2 molecules into individual oxygen atoms, and some of these oxygen atoms then react with other O2 molecules to create ozone (O3). This ozone absorbs and scatters a significant portion of the incoming harmful UV radiation, providing vital protection for life on Earth. This process is known as the ozone-oxygen cycle and plays a critical role in maintaining the ozone layer’s stability and its role in shielding us from harmful UV rays.
Ozone formation involves a series of chemical reactions between oxygen molecules, ozone molecules, and atomic oxygen. Here are the basic equations for ozone formation:
- O2 + photon (UV ray) → 2O
- O + O2 → O3 (ozone)
- O3 + photon (UV ray) → O2 + O