Study: Human activities are causing the atmospheric layer to shrink

Fareeha Arshad
Photo byPhoto by Richard Gatley on Unsplash

A new study reveals that the stratosphere, one of the layers of the Earth's atmosphere, has shrunk by 400 meters (1,312 feet) since 1980, indicating the significant impact of human activities on our planet. This is the first global-scale examination of the thinning of the stratosphere, with previous reports only documenting local decreases. The findings are alarming, highlighting that we are disturbing the atmosphere up to 60 kilometres (37 miles) above the surface of the Earth.

The stratosphere, located approximately 20 to 60 kilometres above us, surrounds the lower atmospheric layer known as the troposphere, where we breathe. It is home to the crucial ozone layer, which has been damaged by our chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) release. Although global efforts have successfully curbed ozone depletion, greenhouse gas emissions now impact the entire stratosphere.

According to the study, under plausible climate change scenarios, the vertical extension of the stratosphere could decrease by 4 per cent (1.3 km or 0.8 mi) from 1980 to 2080. The stratosphere is crucial in absorbing harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun through ozone and molecular oxygen. With increasing temperatures at higher altitudes than the troposphere, the layer's stability has important implications for satellite operations, GPS, radio communications, and the distribution of absorbing and emitting molecules.

However, further research is needed to understand the extent and consequences of these impacts fully. As scientists continue to uncover new aspects of climate change, emphasizing the need for further research to understand the full range of consequences resulting from our emissions, we need to take preventive measures from our end to keep the negative effects on the environment under control.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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