Highest UV radiation value ever measured

Highest UV radiation value ever measured

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Highest UV radiation value ever measured

UV radiation is one of the main causes of skin cancer. Even with a UV index of 8, the highest risk of sunburn applies in Germany. Researchers have now reported the highest value ever recorded on the earth's surface from the Bolivian Andes: 43.3.

Highest value ever recorded on the earth's surface The highest UV radiation ever recorded on the earth's surface was measured by researchers in the Bolivian Andes. The team from the USA and Germany determined a UV index of 43.3 in December 2003 - during the summer in the southern hemisphere. The scientists have now reported this in the journal "Frontiers in Environmental Science". For comparison, co-author Uwe Feister from the Richard Aßmann Observatory of the German Weather Service in Lindenberg in Brandenburg referred to Germany. According to this, the values ​​for ultraviolet radiation climbed to 8 to 9 in summer.

UV radiation can cause skin cancer People should avoid a UV exposure of 8 stays outdoors because the radiation can cause skin cancer. Values ​​above 11 are considered extreme. Higher UV radiation increases the risk of sunburn and thus also the risk of skin cancer in the long term. Child sunburn, for example, is the most important risk factor for black skin cancer (malignant melanoma). Experts therefore regularly advise "not to be exposed to strong sunlight, to wear suitable clothing, headgear and sunglasses, and to use sunscreens".

Environmental conditions like on Mars The researchers led by astrobiologist Nathalie Cabrol from the SETI Institute of the US space agency Nasa actually wanted to investigate environmental conditions like on Mars. To this end, the scientists set up two dosimeters in Bolivia near the border with Chile, at the top of a volcano at around 5,900 meters and at Lake Laguna Blanca (4,340 meters). On December 29, 2003, the devices on the mountain measured radiation that corresponds to the UV index 43.3. Values ​​up to 32 were reached on other days.

A gigantic solar flare may have contributed to extreme radiation As the researchers write, "the extreme UV-B radiation is the result of several circumstances: the high altitude, the sun at its zenith and the influx of low-ozone air masses and possibly also ozone-depleting gases". A "gigantic solar flare could also have contributed to the extreme radiation, since on November 4, 2003 the strongest eruption to date on the sun was recorded". Particles from solar eruptions can "affect the atmosphere and damage the ozone layer that protects the earth from UV radiation".

Political tensions have delayed publication As climate researchers predict that the ozone layer over the tropics will thin out further in the coming years and decades due to climate change, such UV records could then occur more frequently. Among other political reasons, the study was only published more than a decade after the measurement. They wanted to check the results and set up new dosimeters, but the researchers could not return because of tensions between the United States and Bolivia, Cabrol said. Control measurements on the Chilean side were only completed in 2009. (ad)

Image: Sven Klöpping / pixelio.de

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