The ozone layer if compressed to a minimum on the earth's surface can absorb infrared radiation. How is it possible that the same molecule can absorb radiation of two different wavelength with changing altitude?

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    $\begingroup$ Do you have a source to back up your statement that ozone can absorb infrared? (How/why) Is that compression on the earth's atmosphere relevant for the question? $\endgroup$
    – Jan Doggen
    Sep 25, 2018 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


Ozone can indeed absorb UV and infrared radiation. The UV part, plays an important role in protecting us from harmful radiation, and the infrared part makes it an effective greenhouse gas. All gases absorb/emit radiation at multiple different and discrete wavelengths. That's know since the early 19th century when the Fraunhofer lines where observed. The wavelengths can change depending on ionization and other factors. But in this case,I don't think there is any change in the absorption wavelengths between stratospheric and tropospheric ozone.

If you have information about such phenomena, please provide documentation. However, my guess is that in different situations studies might mention the absorption wavelengths that are relevant to the case, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't absorb in other wavelengths too.

In particular, close to the Earth's surface there is plenty of infrared radiation, and very little UV radiation. Therefore, ozone might absorb more energy in the infrared. The oposite happen in the stratosphere, where it probably absorbs more energy in the UV bands.

UV absorption bands are the most known for Ozone, but as I said it has infrared absorption bands too. You can see those bands in the following infrared spectrum obtained from NIST:

enter image description here


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