The city of La Paz in Bolivia’s highlands had been hit by an unusual heatwave, with levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation rising. On a scale that normally only goes up to 20, UV radiation levels in the area have just reached 21. The World Health Organization considers a UV index of 11 to be “extreme,” so people are recommended to limit their sun exposure. “The heat is burning. The sun isn’t normal,” said La Paz resident Segundina Mamani. People in the mountains keep cool by eating shaved ice and hiding in the shade. An atmospheric physics expert in La Paz, Luis Blacutt, claimed that the rainy season may bring the same amount of rain as usual, but only for a short time. Despite some rain this week, the laboratory expects the increased UV levels to last about another week. Due to the delayed development of clouds, the UV radiation input is more noticeable.

The high-level Andean regions of South America are exposed to some of the world’s most dangerous UV radiation, with its index values reaching record highs of over 40 at times. However, numbers between 11 and 17 are more common. As world leaders assemble in Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference, some Bolivian scientists argue that changing rainfall patterns are intensifying UV radiation’s impacts by reducing cloud cover.