The Ozone Hole And The Observers
Sunburn, burned skin, skin cancer. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, becomes the most common cancers among adolescents and young adults ages 15 – 29. It’s a terrific proof that the warnings from the 1990s of the ozone hole were justified. The sun provides life, but too much sun without protection can be harmful.
Normally the atmosphere of Earth protects us from the dangerous radiation from the sun, the ultraviolet radiation. Much of it is filtered out by the ozone layer which has been seriously damaged in the last century. Too many ozone-degrading chemicals have been emitted such as CFCs and attacked the high-altitude ozone. Finally the ozone layer became thinner and thinner with a big hole over the Antartic until the Australian coast.
Today the ozone layer recovers slowly. We can permanently observe the evolution thanks to 20th century technology we don’t really see, but which is always present somewhere over the rainbow... the satellites! Thanks to this new technology, researchers and scientists are getting the permanent look at Earth. The images and data sent by the satellites enable them to analyse the atmosphere and to determine its composition. That’s why they know that the ozone layer is slowly recovering.
Space Research has been the big facilitator for this new technology and enabled the first global Earth-Space event when the two astronauts Neil Amstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon July 20th, 1969. „That one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind“ is celebrated every year as the World Day of Space. Today we are celebrating the 44th anniversary of this unique event.
The discovery of the ozone hole was not celebrated, but led to the Montreal Protocol in 1987 and the interdiction of many ozone damaging components. The ozone layer has not yet recovered completely, but thanks to satellites, we know that the measures taken seem to be efficient.
It’s summertime and you are certainly longing for water, sun, wind… and more. Your leisure time on the shore or outside is more important than ever. But don’t forget to wear a T-shirt and sunscreen. Mind your health and perhaps you’ll have from time to time a look to the sky thinking of these satellites measuring the ozone layer.
They are invisible, but they are working for you.