Ozone hole

The Ozone hole was fake news

by Duane Ausherman

In 1992 the Ozone hole was in the news as the latest threat to something, and we needed to spend huge amounts to “fix” it.

By pure chance, one Sunday afternoon, I was talking on Ham radio to the person in charge of the Ozone project.  When I found out about his history of working at an Antarctica station, I wanted more info, as I had wanted to see Antarctica for many years.  He connected me with the people in charge, and I got a position, mostly by luck, as you will see below.

The NSF (National Science Foundation) ran the place and contracted the Navy to provide the basic support for research.  The Navy did so poorly that the NSF contracted out a lot of the support services to private firms.  The largest at the time was ASA (Antarctica Support Services), but a few other government and private agencies were involved in minor aspects.

I wish to dispell any rumors that you may have heard that ASA stood for Assholes Standing Around.

My resume was among the 12k to 15k received for about 200 jobs, of which only 3 were for supervisors.  I sent in my resume and other information that was required.  Later I noticed that I had failed to include some of it, so I resent it, complete this time.  Since my first submission, a supervisor had been promoted to manager.  His position was now open.  The search for a replacement found my resume.  I was offered the position of supervisor of the Heavy Shop.  My incompetence by incorrectly applying the first time was what got me the job.  The Heavy Shop was in charge of maintenance of the 200+ pieces of construction equipment and transportation vehicles and had 33 employees.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

The Ham that got me started offered to ship my extensive Ham radio equipment with his scientific stuff, which was also extensive.  I shipped my transceiver, a yagi antenna, and a mast. Free shipping is nice, and that was the only way to get it there. I crated it up and delivered it to the University of Berkeley’s dock for shipping.

My job required 6 days of 9 hours a day of duty, but I had little else to do, so I worked as needed.  I offered any help I could render to the Ozone project because I owed them, and I was also very interested in the project.

Here is what was known at the time.  The Ozone is basically in three layers.  The hole is in the middle layer.  Ozone can’t disappear, it just migrates upwards to the top layer, and it becomes thicker.  At all times, the rays of the sun must travel through the same thickness of Ozone, regardless of where the Ozone is located.  The project was trying to confirm the size of the hole and how quickly the Ozone migrates up and down.

Here are a few thoughts on that period.

Nobody knew if the hole was natural and had been there forever.
Nobody knew if it had recently changed in size.
Nobody knew if any size change was related to human activity.
This group never released any information to the media.
This research group wasn’t charged with offering recommendations.
The group was appalled at the nonsense from the media. The media just needed something about which to report.
I never saw anything but high-quality controls on the research methodology done by this group.  They were hard-working, honest, and competent.  I had experience with high-quality research on a previous job.

I wanted to take the day off of my work to assist with the launch of the world’s largest balloon to circle the pole and measure the Ozone hole.  My manager approved my day off.  After all, I was the supervisor of the best run department at the station, and that had been the reputation for many years.  My main challenge was to not mess it up.

At the time, easier and cheaper technology was being tested for accuracy in this effort.  I see that now they have a running account of the Ozone hole, so the level of understanding is probably far greater.

Notice that you haven’t heard any news on the Ozone hole in many years?  It was fake news.

I know nothing about current aspects of this issue.  I am just commenting on what I saw at the time.

Updated 15 Nov. 2019