The ozone layer or ozone shield refers to a region of Earth’s stratosphere that absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It contains high concentrations of ozone (O3) relative to other parts of the atmosphere, although still very small relative to other gases in the stratosphere.
The ozone “hole” is really a reduction in concentrations of ozone high above the earth in the stratosphere. The ozone hole is defined geographically as the area wherein the total ozone amount is less than 220 Dobson Units. The ozone hole has steadily grown in size (up to 27 million sq. km.) and length of existence (from August through early December) over the past two decades.After a series of rigorous meetings and negotiations, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was finally agreed upon on 16 september 1987 at the Headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal.
The Montreal Protocol stipulates that the production and consumption of compounds that deplete ozone in the stratosphere–chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform–are to be phased out by 2000 (2005 for methyl chloroform). Scientific theory and evidence suggest that, once emitted to the atmosphere, these compounds could significantly deplete the stratospheric ozone layer that shields the planet from damaging UV-B radiation.
Man-made chlorines, primarily chloroflourobcarbons (CFCs), contribute to the thinning of the ozone layer and allow larger quantities of harmful ultraviolet rays to reach the earth.