Ozone in the atmosphere may absorb UV radiation, preventing it from reaching the Earth's surface and causing people to absorb less of it. Because Australia has less ozone than other regions, such as Brazil, it receives more UV radiation. The amount of solar radiation that reaches the Earth's surface depends on many factors including the amount of ozone in the atmosphere.
Australia is a very large continent with very different environments across its surface. Oceans cover two-thirds of the country, leaving land masses that are dominated by desert in the south and forest in the north. There are also small areas of tropical rainforest in between.
The effect of ozone on solar radiation is most significant over long distances (such as across oceans) because there's not much variation in intensity of sunlight across short distances (such as within continents).
Australia was previously covered by ice during both glacial periods, but today only 15% of the continent is made up of ice. Most of this is sea ice which forms in the Antarctic winter and disappears in the Australian summer when warmer waters melt it away. A smaller amount of land ice occurs in the form of snow that falls at high elevations during cold periods.
In general terms, the amount of solar radiation that reaches Australia varies depending on which part of the country you're in.
Australia's exposure to ultraviolet radiation As the ozone layer depletes, the atmosphere loses its protective filter, allowing more damaging UV radiation to reach our planet's surface. When combined with our cleaner air conditions, Australians are exposed to up to 15% more UV than Europeans. This increased risk of skin cancer affects all types of skin, but is most noticeable in Aboriginal people who make up 1% of the population but account for 50% of skin cancers.
The most important thing you can do to protect yourself from the sun's rays is not to go out in the sun without protecting your skin. Even on a cloudy day, sunlight still contains ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, which is responsible for causing sunburn and aging skin. It is also responsible for causing some skin cancers - especially melanoma. The older you are, the more sensitive you are to sun damage; therefore, even on a cloudy day, you should still avoid being out in the sun for too long. However, if you have a medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease, or are taking medications that affect bone marrow or immune system function, you will need to be careful about exposure to sunlight. Your doctor may suggest ways to prevent skin cancer while enjoying the sun safely.
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in Australia.
As the ozone layer depletes, the atmosphere loses its protective filter, allowing more damaging UV radiation to reach our planet's surface. During the summer, the Earth's orbit takes Australia closer to the sun (as compared to Europe), resulting in an extra 7% solar UV intensity. This means that for a given amount of sunlight, the impact of UV on the skin is much greater in Australia than in Europe.
The impact of this increased exposure includes painful sunburn and skin cancer. However, even people who spend most of their time indoors are not immune to the effects of ultraviolet light. The color of skin exposed to sunlight tends to be red or brown rather than white, due to blood vessels being destroyed by the heat from the sun. This change in color is called "photo-damage" and usually goes away after several days without burning or sunbathing.
Australia has very few areas of intense sunlight that would cause serious damage to healthy skin. Therefore, it's important that you take precautions against over-exposure when you go outdoors. Use a high factor of protection sunscreen, wear a hat, and avoid direct sunlight between 10am and 4pm.
For those who prefer not to wear sunscreen, there are other ways to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays. It is recommended that you limit your exposure to the midday sun and use a sun shade if you will be outside for many hours at a time.