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When discussing the global effects of ozone hole and ozone depletion in “Ozone Hole May Have Caused Australian Floods” (2011), Nathanial Gronewold explains the interdependence of climate systems and how the ozone hole does not just effect the Artic and Antarctic, but climate change in surrounding areas as well. Using recent flooding in areas like Brisbane in Australia as an example, he uses research from Columbia University to show that the massive hole in the ozone layer is altering rainfall and precipitation patterns over the Southern Hemisphere in places like Brazil, southern Africa, and Australia (Gronewold, 2011).
According to Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science’s study, change in precipitation pull the southern jet stream closer to the South Pole and causes a shift in moisture in the tropics. Precipitation in these areas seems to be unaffected by atmosphere-ocean interactions and occurs almost entirely from ozone depletion in southern Polar Regions like the Antarctic (Gronewod, 2011). The levels of depleted ozone in regions of lower latitudes like southern Africa and Australia also support the claims of Columbia University’s study (Christopherson, 2012, p. 68). While La Niña weather patterns can also be a factor in the devastating floods in Australia earlier in 2011, the evidence proves that precipitation patterns in these tropical areas are changing due in part to the growing level of ozone depletion and the ozone hole over the Antarctic that has been growing since 1979 (Gronewold, 2011).
I found this article from Scientific American to be relevant to recent topics in our class since it not only covered the effects of ozone depletion and the ozone hole, but also the interdependence of our world and earth systems. In Geosystems (2012), stratospheric ozone loss is said to have increased immensely since 1979, with a depletion record in 2006 and states that the increased ultraviolet radiation caused by said depletion is affecting atmospheric chemistry and biological systems like precipitation patters and rainfall (Christopherson). The concept that biological systems are all interconnected is a topic that has been covered continuously and being able to take this knowledge and apply it to real life situations, like the floods in Australia, proves to be helpful in understanding the systems and how the can affect one another. Additionally, The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987) is also mentioned in both Gronewald’s article and in our textbook as one of the most successful environmental agreements ever made in history, made to phase out the production of ozone-depleting chemicals and signed by 189 countires. Without this agreement, stratospheric global ozone losses could produce numerous cases of skin cancer and a nonexistent ozone layer by 2100. Even with this treaty, the chlorofluorocarbons already in the atmosphere will continue to affect our climate due to their long residence time (Christoperson, 2012, p. 69).
Climate change due to the ozone hole is a relatively new idea, since studies have only been conducted on the ozone layer since the 1920s (Christopherson, 2012, p. 68). Lorenzo Polvani, a senior research scientist, says that even though the ozone hole can be considered a solved problem due to contracts such as the Montreal Protocol, it has caused climate changes and should be more carefully observed (Gronewald, 2011). Despite having banned production of chlorofluorocarbons like chlorine, fluorine, and carbon, their stability will continue to allow them to have a lasting effect on our climate and the ozone hole. Free chlorine atoms from CFCs break up ozone molecules, leaving oxygen gas molecules in their place resulting in severe long-term consequences. With 1.2 metric tons of CFCs sold in 1987, we will continue to see their effects well into the 2000s (Christopherson, 2011, p. 68-69).
Gronewold’s article sparked particular interest in me due to its relevance to our current studies in class. It also connected ideas I read in the textbook with a real life example of the climate changes we are beginning to experience due to our CFC production fifty years ago. Also, by using Columbia University’s study as the foundation of his article and taking quotes from credible scientists like Lorenzo Polvani, a senior research scientist, and Sarah Kang, a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia, he gave a credible argument and provided a multitude of facts that I was able to further my knowledge by applying information from the Geosystems textbook. Mentioning that the floods and precipitation patterns in tropical areas may also be affected by La Niña patterns gave an alternative view and counterargument, but the article provided significant evidence to support their theory of climate change being produced by ozone depletion (Gronewold, 2011).
Presenting Earth as an integrated system was most prevalent in this article. Gronewold gave clear examples of CFCs causing ozone depletion, ozone depletion causing the ozone hole, the ozone hole causing a pull of the southern jet stream, the pull of the jet stream shifting the tropical moisture, and the adjustment of moisture causing a nearly 30% increase in rainfall over tropical areas like Australia and Brazil (Gronewold, 2011). Seeing this interconnected system connected the article to class readings I have done while supported concepts I have learned.
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