Ultraviolet radiation in the Atacama Desert
The world’s highest levels of surface ultraviolet (UV) irradiance have been measured in the Atacama Desert. This area is characterized by its high altitude, prevalent cloudless conditions, and a relatively low total ozone column. In this paper, we provide estimates of the surface UV (monthly UV index at noon and annual doses of UV-B and UV-A) for all sky conditions in the Atacama Desert. We found that the UV index at noon during the austral summer is expected to be greater than 11 in the whole desert. The annual UV-B (UV-A) doses were found to range from about 3.5 kWh/m2 (130 kWh/m2) in coastal areas to 5 kWh/m2 (160 kWh/m2) on the Andean plateau. Our results confirm significant interhemispherical differences. Typical annual UV-B doses in the Atacama Desert are about 40% greater than typical annual UV-B doses in northern Africa. Mostly due to seasonal changes in the ozone, the differences between the Atacama Desert and northern Africa are expected to be about 60% in the case of peak UV-B levels (i.e. the UV-B irradiances at noon close to the summer solstice in each hemisphere). Interhemispherical differences in the UV-A are significantly lower since the effect of the ozone in this part of the spectrum is minor.
KeywordsUV Spectroradiometry UV radiance Atacama
The support of the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONICYT, Preis ACT1410, 1171690, 1161460 and 1151034) and the Corporación de Fomento de la Producción (CORFO, Preis 17BPE-73748 and 16BPE2-66227), Centro de Nanotecnología (CEDENNA), and the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH, Preis USA1555), is gratefully acknowledged.
Conceived and designed the experiments: RRC, AD and JC Performed the experiments: JJ., and ES. Analyzed the data: RRC, AD, SF, MC, SF, FL, DL and PL Wrote the paper: RRC, AD, JC and SF.
Although the support of the several agencies is gratefully acknowledged (see details below), the funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare neither competing interests nor conflict of interests.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Not applicable since this research did not involved humans, animals, plants or any form of life.
- Bodhaine BA, Dutton EG, Hofmann DJ, McKenzie RL, Johnston PV (1997) UV measurements at Mauna Loa: July 1995 to July 1996. J Geophys Res 102(19265):19273Google Scholar
- LARC NASA (2017) Surface meteorology and Solar Energy (SSE-release 6.0): A renewable energy resource web site sponsored by NASA’s Applied Sciences. https://power.larc.nasa.gov/common/php/SSE_ExSummary.php. Accessed 20 July 2017
- McKinlay AF, Diffey BL (1987) A reference action spectrum for ultraviolet induced erythema in human skin. CIE J 6:17–22Google Scholar
- Seckmeyer G, Bais A, Bernhard G, Blumthaler M, Booth CR (2001) Part 1: Spectral instruments. Instruments to Measure Solar Ultraviolet Radiation. WMO-GAW 125 World Meteorological Organization- Global Atmosphere Watch. Secretariat of the World Meteorological OrganizationGoogle Scholar
- Tevini M (1993) UV-B radiation and ozone depletion: effect on humans, animals, plants, microorganisms and materials. Lewis, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- WMO/UNEP Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion (2014) Global ozone research and monitoring project. Switzerland, GenevaGoogle Scholar