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The science of sunburn

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matt_london | 10:05 Fri 19th Feb 2010 | Science
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Been having a debate with a friend over sun burn and when/where you are more likely to get burn't. This has come about as we are going to Egypt in May when the temperature then can be in high 30's. I argued that although it would be hotter than say the Maldives, the sun is not as strong in Egypt due to it's latitude and therefor the chances of sunburn, although very high, are not as high as somewhere on the equator. The high temperature in Egypt is due to other factors such as warm winds from the desert and not the strenght of the suns rays.

I realise we might only be talking about small differences but, am I right?

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It would seem that in different parts of the world the sun's rays differ. I worked in the tropics for a time, and got very used to the sun. I developed an enviable tan, and eventually could spend all day on a beach without any protection. A few days after returning to Scotland I went with friends to a local beach, where, in the space of two hours, I got a quite painful sunburn!
I spent 3 years in Egypt without any trouble at all but on the ship coming home my face caught the sun reflected off the sea and it became sunburnt. Egypt in May is no problem in the north Cairo etc but down in Luxor it is much hotter I've known it to be 45*C so you will need protection .
I should have added the hottest areas of the world are not on the equator but in north Africa , the desert areas, because there is no vegetation to absorb the heat and you get instant reflection of the suns rays straight off the desert . However there is low humidity so it is more comfortable than the tropics .

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