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How big is the ozone hole? Is the hole getting bigger or smaller? Can the ozone layer/hole be repaired, by nature or otherwise? How long do CFCs take to reach the ozone layer and eat it up? How big will the ozone layer get by the year 2000?How could we stop the ozone hole from getting bigger? Will the ozone hole affect the earth's gravity? What will happen if the hole gets really big? Would we die?
Question Date: 1998-10-15
Answer 1:

No, gravity has nothing to do with the hole in the ozone layer. Ozone is produced when energy from the sun in the form of UV radiation makes a certain reaction occur between two diatomic molecules of oxygen to produce O3, a relatively unstable form of oxygen known as ozone. Gravity play no role. CFCs make ozone even less stable; that is why CFCs deplete the ozone and create the OZONE hole.

Answer 2:

An ozone molecule is made up of three oxygen atoms in a chain.
The ozone layer is a layer of ozone molecules scattered between 19 and 30 kilometers (12 to 30 miles) up in the earth's atmosphere. The concentration of ozone in the ozone layer is usually under 10 parts ozone per million.

Without the ozone layer, UV radiation would not be stopped from entering the earth's atmosphere and coming to the surface.
Ultraviolet light can break chemical bonds of the molecules in cells.
It is ultraviolet light that causes sunburns. If there were too much ultraviolet light around, our skin would burn very badly without any time for it to heal. If the ultraviolet light gets past the skin and gets absorbed by cells further in the body, those cells, and their DNA and other proteins, could also be damaged.

In the 1970's, scientists first discovered that chlorofluorocarbons(CFC's) potentially could destroy the ozone layer, and since CFC's had been in use as refrigerants, coolants, and propellants for aerosol cans since the 1930's, there was a lot of work that needed to be done.

Man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) are a large concern when it comes to the ozone layer. The long life of CFC's is one of the components that make them so hard for the ozone layer to handle. CFC's have a lifetime of about 20 to 100 years, before they get destroyed in the atmosphere. With a long life time like that, one CFC molecule can do a lot of damage, destroying ozone molecules for a long time. Even if we released no more ozone-harmful chemicals like CFC's into the atmosphere, the damage to the stratospheric ozone layer would continue for years to come.

If everyone on Earth stopped making, using, or releasing CFC's today, in what year would the existing CFC's in the atmosphere be destroyed. What would happen to the ozone layer after that?

The ozone hole over Antarctica is growing every day. Now it is about 8.3 million square miles in size during the winter months, large enough to cover most of North America, and most of the damage to the ozone layer comes from human activity. We account for between 75% and 85% of the ozone depletion that takes place each year. 1% to 5% comes from volcano eruptions each year and 15% to 20% from other natural sources.

How do volcano eruptions cause changes in the ozone layer?

(Te EPA site is excellent. It has answers to many of these questions, and lots more! It has information on methyl bromide too.)

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