Fifty years of changes in UV Index and implications for skin cancer in Australia
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Surface ultraviolet (UV) radiation plays an important role in human health. Increased exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of skin cancer. In Australia, public campaigns to prevent skin cancer include the promotion of daily UV forecasts. If all other atmospheric factors are equal, stratospheric ozone decreases result in UV increases. Given that Australia still has the highest skin cancer rates in the world, it is important to monitor Australia’s stratospheric ozone and UV radiation levels over time because of the effects cumulative exposure can have on humans. In this paper, two long-term ozone datasets derived from surface and satellite measurements, a radiation code and atmospheric meteorological fields are used to calculate clear-sky UV radiation over a 50-year period (1959–2009) for Australia. The deviations from 1970–1980 levels show that clear-sky UV is on the rise. After the 1990s, an overall annual increase from 2 to 6% above the 1970–1980 levels was observed at all latitudes. Examining the summer and winter deviations from 1970–1980 showed that the winter signal dominated the annual changes, with winter increases almost twice those in summer. With ozone levels not expected to recover to pre-depletion levels until the middle of this century, UV levels are expected to continue to rise. Combined with Australians favoring an outdoor life-style, when temperatures are warmer, under high levels of UV, the associated risk of skin cancer will increase.
KeywordsUltraviolet radiation UV Index Skin cancer Ozone UV climatology
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