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Some Statistics on UV Index

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Educational Resources

Some Statistics on UV Index

What is UV index?

UV index is an indicator that measures the effect of solar ultraviolet radiation on human skin. The higher the index, the greater the risk of skin damage due to ultraviolet radiation.  In Hong Kong, the UV index normally ranges between 0 and 15.

What are the exposure categories for different UV index values?

According to the World Health Organization, the UV index is classified as "low", "moderate", "high", "very high" and "extreme" categories based on the UV index values.

UV index
Exposure category
0-2
Low
3-5
Moderate
6-7
High
8-10
Very High
>= 11
Extreme

When will the UV index attain its daily and monthly maximum values?

Figure 1 shows the diurnal values of the hourly mean UV index, based on annual and seasonal averages for the past ten years (1 August 1999 to 31 July 2009).  The hourly mean UV index at 1 p.m. was highest in all seasons. 

Fig.1

Figure 1    The annual and seasonal averaged values of hourly mean UV Index

The annual variation of the monthly mean values of UV index for the past ten years is shown in Figure 2.  It can be seen that the UV index is highest in July.  The diurnal and seasonal variations of the UV index are mainly due to the difference in solar elevation angle which determines the intensity of atmospheric attenuation and scattering of the solar UV radiation.

Fig.2

Figure 2     The average daily UV index in different months 

(1 August 1999 to 31 July 2009)

 

How are the daily maximum UV indices in different exposure categories distributed over different months?

An analysis of the UV index data from 1 August 1999 to 31 July 2009 shows that the daily maximum UV index reached the "high" or above categories for about 66% of the time. The "extreme" cases, occurring about 17% of the time, were mostly attained during the period between April and September.  The detailed frequency distribution of daily maximum UV index in different exposure categories and months is shown in the following table.

Daily maximum

UV index

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Total
Low

(0-2)

40
39
48
26
15
19
6
17
5
6
16
17
254

days

%
1.1
1.1
1.3
0.7
0.4
0.5
0.2
0.5
0.1
0.2
0.4
0.5
7.0
Moderate

(3-5)

186
87
83
81
38
43
27
36
43
43
101
224
992

days

%
5.1
2.4
2.3
2.2
1.0
1.2
0.7
1.0
1.2
1.2
2.8
6.1
27.2
High

(6-7)

80
101
94
50
40
37
32
34
49
138
168
69
892

days

%
2.2
2.8
2.6
1.4
1.1
1.0
0.9
0.9
1.3
3.8
4.6
1.9
24.5
Very High

(8-10)

3
55
83
105
119
82
64
83
161
122
15
0
892

days

%
0.1
1.5
2.3
2.9
3.3
2.3
1.8
2.3
4.4
3.3
0.4
0.0
24.5
Extreme

(>=11)

0
0
2
38
98
119
181
137
38
1
0
0
614

days

%
0.0
0.0
0.1
1.0
2.7
3.3
5.0
3.8
1.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
16.8

Frequency distribution (number of days and percentage) of daily maximum UV index in different exposure categories and months (1 August 1999 to 31 July 2009)

How can I obtain information about UV index?

The Hong Kong Observatory has been measuring and disseminating UV index since 1999.  Since 2006, the Observatory has started providing forecast of the maximum UV index for the next day.  When the index is measured or forecast to be 11 or above, the Observatory will also advise the public to avoid prolonged exposure under the sun. The public can check the latest UV index through radio, television, the Observatory's website and Dial-a-Weather system (1878200).