Trends of UV Radiation in Antarctica
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Trends of UV Radiation in Antarctica

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  • Description:
    The success of the Montreal Protocol in curbing increases in harmful solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation at the Earth’s surface has recently been demonstrated. This study also provided evidence that the UV Index (UVI) measured by SUV-100 spectroradiometers at three Antarctic sites (South Pole, Arrival Heights, and Palmer Station) is now decreasing. For example, a significant (95% confidence level) downward trend of −5.5% per decade was reported at Arrival Heights for summer (December through February). However, it was also noted that these measurements are potentially affected by long-term drifts in calibrations of approximately 1% per decade. To address this issue, we have reviewed the chain of calibrations implemented at the three sites between 1996 and 2018 and applied corrections for changes in the scales of spectral irradiance (SoSI) that have occurred over this period (Method 1). This analysis resulted in an upward correction of UVI data measured after 2012 by 1.7% to 1.8%, plus smaller adjustments for several shorter periods. In addition, we have compared measurements during clear skies with model calculations to identify and correct anomalies in the measurements (Method 2). Corrections from both methods reduced decadal trends in UVI on average by 1.7% at the South Pole, 2.1% at Arrival Heights, and 1.6% at Palmer Station. Trends in UVI calculated from the corrected dataset are consistent with concomitant trends in ozone. The decadal trend in UVI calculated from the corrected dataset for summer at Arrival Heights is −3.3% and is significant at the 90% level. Analysis of spectral irradiance measurements at 340 nm suggests that this trend is partially caused by changes in sea ice cover adjacent to the station. For the South Pole, a significant (95% level) trend in UVI of −3.9% per decade was derived for January. This trend can partly be explained by a significant positive trend in total ozone of about 3% per decade, which was calculated from SUV-100 and Dobson measurements. Our study provides further evidence that UVIs are now decreasing in Antarctica during summer months. Reductions have not yet emerged during spring when the ozone hole leads to large UVI variability.
  • Source:
    Atmosphere. 2020; 11(8):795
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