I was listening to a radio interview the other day where they were discussing solar panels. The interviewee mentioned that solar panels tend to degrade faster in New Zealand because of damage from UV light, and mentioned in a throwaway remark that the UV index was invented in Canada, where it went up to 10 to suit local conditions but that in New Zealand our UV often exceeds 10. All of which led me to do a little research.
The UV Index is a linear scale, with higher values representing a greater risk level of sunburn (which is correlated with other health risks) due to UV exposure. An index of 0 corresponds to zero UV radiation, as is essentially the case at night. An index of 10 corresponds roughly to midday summer sun with a clear sky when the UV Index was originally designed (Toronto 1992). Now summertime index values in the teens are common for tropical latitudes, mountainous altitudes, and areas with above-average ozone layer depletion.
Now we have a bach at the beach near Levin I was checking the forecast for the weekend. It’s not looking too good, with gales forecast — not so unusual for spring in this part of the world.
But the thing is: look at those UV warnings! And keep in mind this is spring, and not yet even early summer. Then consider this portion of the graph of UV levels for 2013 for the same place.
For 5 months of the year reds (between 8.0 and 10.9 by the look of it) and purples (11 and over) predominate. On 06 December 2013 the UV level even hit 15.2 in what seems to be the high for the year, though I see 2012 had 3 days where it hit 16.
I’m starting to think it may be time for me to start using sunscreen — I’ve never been a fan before now.