Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Version 2 data of the National Science Foundation's Ultraviolet Radiation Monitoring Network: South Pole



[1] Spectral ultraviolet (UV) and visible irradiance has been measured at the South Pole between 1991 and 2003 by a SUV-100 spectroradiometer, which is part of the U.S. National Science Foundation's UV Monitoring Network. Here we present a new data edition, labeled “Version 2.” The new version was corrected for wavelength shift errors and deviations of the spectroradiometer from the ideal cosine response. A comprehensive uncertainty budget of the new data set was established. Below 400 nm the expanded standard uncertainty (coverage factor 2) varies between 4.6 and 7.2%, depending on wavelength and sky condition. The uncertainty of biologically relevant UV irradiances is approximately 6%. Compared to the previously published data set, Version 2 UV data are higher by 5–14%, depending on wavelength, solar zenith angle (SZA), and year of observation. By comparing Version 2 data with results of a radiative transfer model, the good consistency and homogeneity of the new data set were confirmed. The data set is used to establish a UV climatology for the South Pole, focusing on the effects of aerosols, clouds, and total column ozone. Clouds are predominantly optically thin; 71% of all clouds have an optical depth between 0 and 1. The average attenuation of UV irradiance at 345 nm by clouds is less than 5% and no attenuations greater than 23% were observed. Attenuation by homogeneous clouds is generally larger in the visible than in the UV. The wavelength dependence of cloud attenuation is quantitatively explained with the wavelength-dependent radiance distribution on top of clouds and the incidence-angle dependence of cloud transmittance. Largest radiation levels occur in late November and early December when low stratospheric ozone amounts coincide with relatively small SZAs. Owing to the large effect of the “ozone hole,” short- and long-term variability of UV during the austral spring is very high. When the ozone hole disappears, DNA-damaging irradiance can decrease by more than a factor of two within 2 days. Typical summer UV index values range between 2 and 3.5 and vary by ±30% (±1σ) between different years. Linear regression analyses did not indicate statistically significant UV trends owing to the large year-to-year variability and the fact that the network was established only after the first occurrence of the ozone hole. Current measurements therefore document variability on an elevated level.