Skip to main content
ad info

 
CNN.com  nature
  Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  

 

  Search
 
 

 
NATURE
TOP STORIES

New hurdles hamper Galapagos oil spill cleanup

Insight, Prius lead the hybrid-powered fleet

Picture: Indonesia's Merapi volcano erupts

(MORE)

TOP STORIES

Up to 2,000 killed in India quake; fear of aftershocks spreads

Clinton aide denies reports of White House vandalism

New hurdles hamper Galapagos oil-spill cleanup

Two more Texas fugitives will contest extradition

(MORE)

MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 


WORLD

U.S.

POLITICS

LAW

TECHNOLOGY

ENTERTAINMENT

HEALTH

TRAVEL

FOOD

ARTS & STYLE



(MORE HEADLINES)
*
  E-MAIL:
Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Or:
Get a free e-mail account

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 AsiaNow
 En Español
 Em Português
 Svenska
 Norge
 Danmark
 Italian

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 TIME INC. SITES:
 CNN NETWORKS:
Networks image
 more networks
 transcripts

 SITE INFO:
 help
 contents
 search
 ad info
 jobs

 WEB SERVICES:
CNN e-store


Southern Chile warned of high radiation levels under ozone hole

sun setting over ice
The Antarctic ozone hole has reached as far north as South America, causing part of Chile to be exposed to high levels of solar radiation  

October 10, 2000
Web posted at: 9:56 AM EDT (1356 GMT)


In this story:

Radiation levels peaked on Saturday

Chemicals blamed for ozone depletion

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



PUNTA ARENAS, Chile (Reuters) -- A wide swath of southern Chile was on alert on Monday as dangerous levels of ultraviolet radiation hit peaks because of the depletion of the protective ozone layer over the Antarctic.

Health authorities warned the 120,000 residents of this wool and fishing city -- one of the few populated areas beneath the ozone hole in the southern hemisphere -- not to go out in the sun during the day.

The ozone hole over the Antarctic this year has reached its deepest since scientists began measuring it 15 years ago, with more than 50 percent depletion being recorded throughout most of the hole, United Nations experts said on Friday.

That has left this windy city 1,400 miles (2,240 km) south of Chile's capital, Santiago, -- and also the Argentine city of Ushuaia on the nearby island Tierra del Fuego -- open to harmful ultraviolet radiation which can cause skin cancer and destroy tiny plants in the food chain.

The tip of the Americas, south of the Patagonia wilds where Britain's Prince William is on a chararcter-building expedition, is the only landmass outside the Antarctic exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the ozone hole.

"We are warning people throughout the region not to go out in the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.," said Lidia Amarales, the health minister in Chile's most southerly Magallanes and Antarctic Region, where Punta Arenas is the provincial capital.

Radiation levels peaked on Saturday

Health authorities called an orange alert -- the second most dangerous level in a scale of four -- in which ultraviolet (UV) exposure can cause skin burns in 7 minutes. A red alert can provoke burning in 5 minutes.

"If people have to leave their homes they should wear high factor sun creams, UV protective sunglasses, wide brimmed hats and clothing with long sleeves," said Amarales.

Dr. Claudio Casiccia, head of the ozone department at the University of Magallanes, said ultraviolet radiation levels hit an all-time peak Saturday. "We are slightly below that level now but still on alert," he said.

Despite the alert, many local residents walked the streets unprotected on Monday. "I have to go to buy bread and scarcely have money for that, so forget the sunglasses and sun cream," said Adriana Cerpa, a 28-year-old housewife.

Experts from the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday the ozone hole is at its deepest level on record and that "near total destruction" of the ozone in some layers of the stratosphere had been observed since the middle of September, much earlier than in previous years.

Chemicals blamed for ozone depletion

ozone hole satellite image
A frame from a NASA animation showing the ozone hole over Antartica  

Chemicals -- including chlorine compounds used in refrigerants, aerosol sprays and solvents and bromine compounds used in firefighting halogens -- are blamed for causing depletion.

Extremely low temperatures in the stratosphere during the southern hemisphere's winter spark off the chemical ozone depletion, a process that accelerates as the region enters spring-time.

For more than a decade, the hole has appeared in late August or early September, with the phenomenon peaking in the first week or two of October, a clear sign that greenhouse gases are eating away the earth's protective layer.

All 12 monitoring stations around the rim of the Antarctic have reported measurements of ozone this spring that are 50-70 percent below the norms in the years 1964-1976, before the ozone hole was detected, the Geneva-based WMO said.

An image released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Sept. 8 showed a hole appearing as a giant blue blob, totally covering Antarctica and stretching to the southern tip of South America.

NASA said the hole spread over 11 million square miles (28.3 million square km), an area three times larger than the land mass of the United States.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



RELATED STORIES:
Clouds' role in global warming studied
October 9, 2000
NASA finds largest-ever ozone hole
October 4, 2000
y: Earth Day at 30: Having a new day, or passe?
April 2000
NASA images show shrinking ozone hole
October 1, 1999

RELATED SITES:
United Nations
University of Magallanes
World Meteorological Organization
NASA


Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
 Search   


Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.