Environmental Woes of Tierra del Fuego -- Ozone Depletion
Lt. Gabriel Karamanian notes the spikes in ultraviolet radiation on spring days when the ozone hole passes above Ushuaia, a city that proclaims itself the southernmost in the world. Ultraviolet-blocking ozone naturally migrates toward the poles as it is produced in the atmosphere, making the protective ozone layer more dense above sub-polar regions like Tierra del Fuego than it is in the tropics. This grants moderate protection for those on the ground even when the ozone hole passes above. Though more than 95 percent of ozone is destroyed over the South Pole during the three-month ozone hole season, losses of ozone at the edge of the hole where it nicks Tierra del Fuego are 40 percent.
"In 1998 we had a clear sky on an ozone hole day. The measurement of UV-B was similar to that in Buenos Aires on spring day," says Maj. Osvaldo Barturen, commander of the Argentine ozone observatory in Ushuaia, of the capital city nearly 2,500 kilometers north. "With this ozone (loss) in the tropics you could fry," he says. "Here in Tierra del Fuego God is very generous with us."