Dr Richard McKenzie, Senior Research Scientist at NIWA, Lauder, gives several reasons why it is important to monitor UV radiation in New Zealand.
Dr Elizabeth Baird
DR RICHARD MCKENZIE
The main reason I suppose that we are interested in ultraviolet radiation is because of its impact on human health. Of course it impacts many other things as well – plastic materials and plant productivity – but it’s human health is the big one, and New Zealand is particularly interesting because we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. We need to understand if it’s the UV radiation that causes that high rate of cancer or what. We have done a study using some of the equipment here, comparing the UV intensities here with that over a range of sites throughout North America, and we have found that the peak UV intensities here were 40 percent greater than in the USA, also about 40 percent more than in Europe. So it seems that, for the same latitude, we get a lot more UV in the southern hemisphere.