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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

20 December 2001

New weather index to make rural and regional Australia 'sunsmarter'


As the school year draws to a close and thousands of Australian families turn their minds to the beach and our great outdoors, the Bureau of Meteorology in conjunction with the Cancer Council of Australia have combined forces to give Rural and Regional Australia comprehensive local ultraviolet radiation (UV) forecasts and information on a daily basis.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage, announced today at Guthrie Primary School in Shepparton that the Bureau has expanded its web site to provide UV information for 180 locations across Australia.

"Until today UV health warnings were available in capital cities - now expanded to include towns and cities across the country," Sharman Stone said.

"From Broome to Cairns, from Darwin to Launceston and hundreds of locations in between local UV forecasts will be available on the Bureau's web site www.bom.gov.au from today. Designed in response to increasing public demand for information about UV, the site features forecasts for 180 locations".

"With over 700,000 skin cancers being removed each year, the UV index will provide a significant public health benefit to assist in the fight against the disease", Craig Sinclair, SunSmart Campaign Manager added.

The forecast UV radiation intensity is converted to an index that estimates the maximum UV intensity for midday - assuming cloud free skies. A correction factor is applied for the various degrees of cloud coverage and the values applicable to different levels of cloudiness are listed.

"The enhanced web site gives visitors an idea of when and how long they need to 'slip, slop, slap' while enjoying the Australia summer", Sharman Stone said.

"Cloudy days deceive many people into thinking the danger of UV radiation is minimal. While clouds block some UV radiation, the degree of protection depends on the type and amount of cloud. Some clouds can actually increase the UV intensity on the ground by reflecting and refracting the sun' s rays".

"This new service will also benefit rural and regional Australians working outdoors during the summer months. With the fruit picking season about to get into full swing in the Goulburn Valley, pickers and orchardists will now know in advance the strength of the hot summer sun", Sharman Stone said.

UV index forecasts are available at: http://www.bom.gov.au/products/uvindex_national.shtml

Contact:
Simon Frost 0419 495 468
Craig Sinclair (Sunsmart) 0418 315 337

Commonwealth of Australia