UV facts

Five Important Facts You May Not Know About UV

It’s not about the temperature

Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia. Sun damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation, not heat. Australia’s high UV environment, combined with a significant proportion of the population with fair skin, contributes to Australia having one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

The good news is that with good sun protection, skin cancer is almost entirely preventable. The UV Index can be used to let you know when to protect yourself and your family from UV radiation.

Five facts about UV

1. In most parts of Australia, the UV Index reaches 11 or more in the summer. Daily UV levels peak around midday and on clear days, are forecast to be extreme across Australia in the summer months.

2. You get sunburnt fastest when your shadow is shortest. When the UV is high, the sun is also high causing it to case a shorter shadow.

3. UV levels are just as strong in the morning as they are in the afternoon On a clear day the UV level will be the same 3 hours before midday and 3 hours after midday.

4. UV radiation is invisible and can’t be felt. Heat is caused by infrared radiation, not UV radiation.

5. UV peaks at midday even though the temperatures continue to rise in the afternoon. UV radiation is not dependent on heat – you can have high UV even on a cool or cloudy day.

A good way to find out about UV levels and sun protection times is to download Cancer Council’s free SunSmart app. The UV levels in Australia increase the further north you go, so if you are travelling, you can change your location on the app and check whether the UV levels are different from your home location.

Remember it’s about the UV not the temperature. So when the UV level is 3 or above use a combination of sun protection measures:

  • Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  • Slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
  • Seek shade.
  • Slide on sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.

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Western Australia

New South Wales

Forecast Data

New Zealand

Forecast - Wa


UV level
's Forecast UV Index -
Very High

UV observation courtesy of ARPANSA

UV readings from around AUS
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