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Warmer, drier, summer prediction heightens risk

Warmer, drier, summer prediction heightens risk of UVR exposure

SunSmart media release, 8 October 2010

Summer is likely to be warmer, drier and less windy than usual, bringing with it an increased risk of sunburn, which is caused by excessive ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure, as Kiwis make the most of settled weather and spend more time outside.

Principal Scientist Climate with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Dr James Renwick, says the current La Niña weather pattern is likely to continue until at least autumn 2011.

“At the moment our outlook is saying that summer temperatures are likely to be above average in the east of both islands and in the north of the South Island, and very likely to be above average in other districts.”

Dr Renwick says there’s also likely to be normal or below normal rainfall in much of the South Island and in the east of the North Island, and no more than normal rainfall over the rest of the county. “We’re also likely to have weaker than normal westerly winds.

“Such warm, dry and settled conditions would probably mean people spending more time outside over summer, with the potential for greater risk of exposure to damaging UVR.”

The ultraviolet index (UVI) measures UVR intensity. Wayde Beckman of SunSmart says in most parts of New Zealand over summer, the UVI is 3 or above.

“We need to slip into the shade, slap on a hat, slop on plenty of broad spectrum SPF30+ sunscreen and wrap on a pair of sunglasses, especially between 11am and 4pm.

“It’s not the sun’s heat that burns, but UVR, and sunburn is linked to melanoma which kills about 250 Kiwis every year.

“Never get sunburnt and remember that there’s no such thing as a safe tan – any change in skin colour is a sign that damage has already taken place.”

NIWA provides daily forecasts of the UVI to the media via MetService, and they are also available at

For advice on choosing a sunscreen and sunglasses that will help to protect you from the sun, visit your local pharmacy.


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