Ozone, UV and Aerosol studies

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The Royal Metorological Institute of Belgium has a long tradition with the observation of ozone in the atmosphere. In 1969 (and even somewhat earlier), well before the commotion about the ozone hole caused by anthropogenic emissions of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's), a series of measurements of the vertical profiles of ozone was started with the balloon soundings. A few years later, in 1971, a time series of almost daily observations of the total column of ozone was initiated with the installation of a Dobson spectrophotometer.

In the early days the idea was to improve weather forecasts. Ozone mainly resides at high altitudes (20-25km), and therefore contains information on the large scale circulations in the atmosphere. However, it soon turned out that depletions of the ozone layer could cause enhanced levels of UV radiation with possible damage to different forms of life on earth. Many trend studies were performed in the last two decades of the 20th century.

Any long time series of observations can be compromised by different sources of errors. For example there can be problems with the calibration of the instruments, changes in the instrumentation over time, the measurements may experience interference of different kinds. To make correct trend calculations it is therefore necessary to eliminate instrumental artefacts from the time series.

Information on the chemistry of the ozone formation and some general aspects of the global distribution of ozone in the atmosphere can be found in the introduction.