Modern polymeric materials possess an ever increasing potential in a large variety of outdoor objects and structures
offering an alternative for many traditional materials. In outdoor applications, however, polymers are subject to a
phenomenon called weathering. This is primarily observed as unwanted property changes: yellowing or fading, chalking,
blistering, and even severe erosion of the material surface. One of the major weathering factors is UV radiation.
In spring 2005, the Finnish Meteorological Institute with its research and industrial partners launched a five-year
material research project named UVEMA (UV radiation Effects on MAterials). Within the framework of the project, a
weathering network of seven European sites was established. The network extends from the Canary Islands of Spain
(latitude 28.5°N) to the Lapland of Finland (latitude 67.4°N), covering a wide range of UV radiation conditions. Since
autumn 2005, the sites of the network have been maintaining weathering platforms of specimens of different kinds of
polymeric materials. At the same time, the sites have been maintaining their long-term monitoring programmes for
spectrally resolved UV radiation. Within UVEMA, these data are used for explaining the differences between the
degradation rates of the materials at each site and for correlating the UV conditions in accelerated ageing tests to those
under the Sun.
We will present the objectives of the UVEMA project aiming at deeper understanding of the ageing of polymers and
more reliable assessments for their service life time. Methodologies adopted within the project and the first results of the
project will be summarized.