Effects on the Environment
The largest problem with the depletion of the ozone layer are likely
ecological impacts. Even though some species respond positively, extensive tests
in several countries have shown that hundreds of species of plants and animals
display negative effects from an increase in UV radiation.
Effects on phytoplankton
Ultraviolet radiation can harm phytoplankton in the oceans. This is of great
concern as this type of plankton is the first link of the marine food chain.
Variations in its population could potentially cause greater disturbances in the
balance of other life forms like fish or whales. Specifically the effects of UV
on phytoplankton inhabiting the Antarctic waters are extensively investigated by
scientists as UV-B exposure in these waters has greatly increased during the
last decades due to the seasonal ozone hole (This is one of the reasons why the
NSF network has stations in Antarctica).
Effects on plants
Another issue that may seem more relevant to the human population is the effect
of UV on plants and food crops. Greater exposure of plant
life to UV-B can result in a decrease in production rates, meaning less food
Throughout the world efforts are being made to increase the level of UV
resistance in staple crops, such as rice, where some species are extremely
sensitive to UV radiation, and other species of rice can withstand a great
increase. With this knowledge, scientists can find the most effective and
economical species to use in rice farming, thereby increasing the UV resistance
of much of the world's food supply.
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