Record Ultraviolet Rays Every Measured on Earth

By WTAJ News

Published 07/09 2014 08:46PM

Updated 07/09 2014 08:49PM

We use sunscreen in the summer to protect ourselves from ultraviolet radiation from the sun.  If we do not protect ourselves the ultraviolet radiation could cause sunburn and skin cancer.  However, there are some places in the world where no amount of sunscreen will protect you, and the top of Bolivia’s Licancabur volcano is prefect evidence of this. 

            Ultraviolet radiation is measured by an ultraviolet (UV) index that forecasts the strength of UV radiation from the sun.  Here in the United States the UV index ranges from zero to a peak at about twelve. UV index is measured all over the world however, and in some areas the peaks extend well beyond what we could even imagine. 

            In December of 2003 during the summer of the southern hemisphere a world-record UV index of 43.3 was detected at Bolivia’s Licancabur volcano.  This level is similar to the surface radiation on Mars and you would have to be wearing a lead suit to protect yourselves from these dangerous rays.  But why is it that we do not see our UV index soar this high during the summer in the northern hemisphere?  The simple answer is that the high elevation of the Licancabur volcano made this high UV index possible

            Generally areas of higher elevation will see higher peaks in their UV indexes.  The higher index is because the higher in the atmosphere you go there are less air molecules to absorb and scatter the UV radiation.  The measurement at the Licancabur volcano was taken at its peak which measures in at about 19,423 above sea level.  Unlike the Licancabur volcano we are much closer to sea level and have more air molecules above us so a UV index like 43 will not work its way to the ground.

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