What is a UV Map?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A UV map is a map which provides information about levels of ultraviolet light. UV maps can be used in a number of different ways, and they can be tremendously useful. It is often possible to find such maps at websites which handle weather topics, and they are sometimes published in the newspaper and shown on the news, especially if notable changes are occurring. Government agencies which track environmental trends may also make UV map information available to the public.

UV maps often predict levels of ultraviolet light.
UV maps often predict levels of ultraviolet light.

One type of UV map is a forecast map. Such maps provide projected information about the intensity of UV radiation so that people can make decisions about when and where they want to be outdoors by looking at a UV map. They often provide estimates of the peak UV level, and the time that this level will occur. This type of map may give information in the form of a UV index, which assigns a numerical value to various levels of intensity which people can use as a quick reference to determine their risk of burning.

A UV forecast map can be useful for people who are planning to be outdoors. If the UV index is going to be unusually high, it may be a good idea to postpone a planned outdoor activity until it drops down to a safer level, as there will be a high risk of burning. For people who cannot postpone outdoor activities, a high index is a warning to take extra precautions to prevent unnecessary exposure, including using sunscreen, hats, long sleeved protective garments, and so forth.

A UV map can also provide information about historic UV trends. This may also be given in an ultraviolet index for a quick and convenient frame of reference for the viewer. Maps with historic trends are often used by researchers who want to see whether or not UV exposure is increasing, and who want to identify periods of peak UV levels. These maps can be used to do things like track changes in the Earth's atmosphere, plan ahead for events on the basis of historic trends, and so forth.

UV maps can vary in specificity. Some cover large areas, while others may provide detailed information about a small geographic region. People who are interested in contributing to scientific research may want to find out if a government agency or scientific organization is interested in installing a UV metering device on their property. The device can be used to track and log UV exposure for the purpose of adding to scientific data and making UV maps more precise.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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