The ozone layer acts as the world's natural sunblock that obstructs harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the Sun. Depending on what part of the atmosphere they are located in, ozone can either protect or harm life. The atmosphere has three basic layers: troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere.
According to an article titled "Atmosphere," the ozone in the mesosphere is decreasing, thus preventing it from absorbing UV light. What does this imply, and how will this affect climate change?
A team of researchers led by Prof. Yoshizumi Miyoshi from Nagoya University, Japan observed, analyzed, and explained thoroughly what mesospheric ozone layer depletion could mean for the planet.
Mesospheric Ozone Layer Depletion Could Happen During Aurora
The team of scientists believes that the phenomenon behind the northern lights is also causing mesospheric ozone layer depletion. According to Latestly, the interactions of electrons and plasma in the magnetosphere may also be responsible for the decreasing ozone in the mesosphere and could have a significant effect on climate change.
The study titled "Penetration of MeV Electrons Into the Mesosphere Accompanying Pulsating Aurorae," published in Nature's Scientific Reports, showed the unique observations by the European Incoherent Scatter (EISCAT) radar wherein electron precipitation that causes aurorae is associated with a weak geomagnetic storm that may have caused ozone depletion at the mesosphere.
As Latestly reported, Professor Miyoshi and the team observed the moderate geomagnetic storm over the Scandinavian Peninsula in 2017. They focused on the pulsating aurorae (PsA), a faint aurora, at that time and found that trapped electrons in the magnetosphere indicated the presence of chorus waves in that area.
Computer analysis using EISCAT data showed that precipitation of electrons from the magnetosphere carries enough energy to penetrate the atmosphere at approximately 60 to 120 kilometers altitude in the mesospheric level. It immediately depletes the local ozone by more than 10% after hitting it.
"PsAs occur almost daily, are spread over large areas, and last for hours. Therefore, the ozone depletion from these events could be significant," Science Daily quoted Professor Miyoshi.
He added that this is only a case study, and further studies should confirm the extent of ozone depletion in the mesosphere due to electron precipitation. He believes that the impact of this phenomenon could affect climate change and, ultimately, modern humans.
Effects of Ozone Depletion
Ozone depletion is a major environmental problem that causes an increase of harmful UV lights that reaches the Earth's surface. Mesospheric ozone layer depletion means that there is less ozone in the mesosphere to absorb UV light; thus, it easily enters the atmosphere and causes an increase in temperature.
European Union warns that it could cause higher rates of skin cancer, eye cataracts, and genetic and immune system damage. Moreover, UV radiation also affects terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that could change animal and plant growth, food chains, as well as biochemical cycles. In general, life as we know it will drastically change if ozone layer depletion continues.
Check out more news and information on Ozone Layer on Science Times.