Human exposure to ultraviolet radiation at the Antipodes - a comparison between an Antarctic (67°S) and Arctic (75°N) location

Cockell, Charles; Horneck, Gerda; Rettberg, Petra; Arendt, Jo; Scherer, Kerstin; Facius, Rainer and Gugg-Helminger, Anton (2002). Human exposure to ultraviolet radiation at the Antipodes - a comparison between an Antarctic (67°S) and Arctic (75°N) location. Polar Biology, 25(7) pp. 492–499.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-002-0381-z

Abstract

We used ultraviolet radiation dosimeters to investigate human exposure at two polar latitudes with a 24-h photoperiod: at Rothera Station (UK) (67°S) and at a field camp in the Haughton impact structure in the Canadian High Arctic (75°N). Mean personal UV radiation exposure in the Antarctic location was 4.3 times greater than that in the Arctic location, even in the absence of ozone depletion. More than zenith angle accounted for the higher UV exposure. Widespread snow and ice covers, and probably less atmospheric pollution, caused higher personal exposures. Although the mean exposures were higher in the Antarctic location, the mean exposure ratio in the Antarctic (0.20-0.09) was similar to the value measured in the Arctic (0.27-0.09) on clear days. We use the Antarctic ratio to provide quantitative estimates of UV-radiation exposure for workers at the Geographical South Pole for the winter solstice under a constant 24-h photoperiod. Exposure ratios can be used to translate measurements of UV radiation by horizontally fixed spectroradiometers into estimates of the mean exposures expected in populations at polar latitudes, although variations between individuals are large. The data have implications for determining the UV exposures of indigenous high-latitude populations.

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