Ultraviolet Radiation Definition

by Laurent Cousineau
(Montreal)

Ultraviolet radiation is an electromagnetic wave that lies just outside of the violet end of the visible spectrum.

An estimated 5% of the total energy emitted by the sun is UV radiation.

UV is the major energy source for both the stratosphere and mesosphere. There, it plays an important role in chemical composition and energy balance.

Although most of the UV rays are blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere, some will still penetrate.

These rays are good in moderation as they will help plants during photosynthesis, and will produce vitamin D in humans.

However, too much ultraviolet radiation may:

  • Burn skin
  • Cause cancer
  • Cause cataracts
  • Damage vegetation

Ultraviolet Radiation and the Ozone Layer

Holes in the ozone layer will cause more ultraviolet radiation to penetrate the atmosphere.

Learn more about the ozone layer.

Learn more about the ozone layer crisis.

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