The Detection of Long-Term Changes in Stratospheric Ozone: Scientific Requirements and Current Results from Satellite-Based Measurement Systems

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  • a Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Branch, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771
  • | b Applied Research Corporation, Landover, MD 20785
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Abstract

The ability to detect subtle trends in upper stratospheric ozone places strict requirements on satellite-based Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SBUV) sensors intended for this purpose. Simulation of the long-term change in backscattered radiance indicates trends in the range 1.0–1.6% per decade depending on wavelength for an ozone depletion scenario based on chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) chemistry. The maximum percentage change in the measured quantity, as would be sensed by the Nimbus-7 SBUV experiment and future similar instruments, is roughly a factor of two less than the maximum percentage change in ozone, the quantity of geophysical interest. Furthermore, interannual variations, whose magnitude can be estimated from the SBUV data set, could obscure a CFC-related trend in radiance when viewed over a period less than a decade. Even when such atmospheric noise and possible solar cycle variations are neglected, the detection of an ozone trend of the magnitude predicted for CFC-related chemistry requires a set of radiance measurements that are internally consistent to 1% or better over a time span of a decade.

Abstract

The ability to detect subtle trends in upper stratospheric ozone places strict requirements on satellite-based Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SBUV) sensors intended for this purpose. Simulation of the long-term change in backscattered radiance indicates trends in the range 1.0–1.6% per decade depending on wavelength for an ozone depletion scenario based on chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) chemistry. The maximum percentage change in the measured quantity, as would be sensed by the Nimbus-7 SBUV experiment and future similar instruments, is roughly a factor of two less than the maximum percentage change in ozone, the quantity of geophysical interest. Furthermore, interannual variations, whose magnitude can be estimated from the SBUV data set, could obscure a CFC-related trend in radiance when viewed over a period less than a decade. Even when such atmospheric noise and possible solar cycle variations are neglected, the detection of an ozone trend of the magnitude predicted for CFC-related chemistry requires a set of radiance measurements that are internally consistent to 1% or better over a time span of a decade.

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