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Changes in biologically active ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth's surface

  • Jaques Piette
Publiceringsår: 2007
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 218-231
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences
Volym: 6
Nummer: 3
Dokumenttyp: Artikel
Förlag: Royal Society of Chemistry


The Montreal Protocol is working. Concentrations of major ozone-depleting substances in the
atmosphere are now decreasing, and the decline in total column amounts seen in the 1980s and 1990s at
mid-latitudes has not continued. In polar regions, there is much greater natural variability. Each spring,
large ozone holes continue to occur in Antarctica and less severe regions of depleted ozone continue to
occur in the Arctic. There is evidence that some of these changes are driven by changes in atmospheric
circulation rather than being solely attributable to reductions in ozone-depleting substances, which may
indicate a linkage to climate change. Global ozone is still lower than in the 1970s and a return to that
state is not expected for several decades. As changes in ozone impinge directly on UV radiation, elevated
UV radiation due to reduced ozone is expected to continue over that period. Long-term changes in
UV-B due to ozone depletion are difficult to verify through direct measurement, but there is strong
evidence that UV-B irradiance increased over the period of ozone depletion. At unpolluted sites in the
southern hemisphere, there is some evidence that UV-B irradiance has diminished since the late 1990s.
The availability and temporal extent of UV data have improved, and we are now able to evaluate the
changes in recent times compared with those estimated since the late 1920s, when ozone measurements
first became available. The increases in UV-B irradiance over the latter part of the 20th century have
been larger than the natural variability. There is increased evidence that aerosols have a larger effect on
surface UV-B radiation than previously thought. At some sites in the Northern Hemisphere, UV-B
irradiance may continue to increase because of continuing reductions in aerosol extinctions since the
1990s. Interactions between ozone depletion and climate change are complex and can be mediated
through changes in chemistry, radiation, and atmospheric circulation patterns. The changes can be in
both directions: ozone changes can affect climate, and climate change can affect ozone. The
observational evidence suggests that stratospheric ozone (and therefore UV-B) has responded relatively
quickly to changes in ozone-depleting substances, implying that climate interactions have not delayed
this process. Model calculations predict that at mid-latitudes a return of ozone to pre-1980 levels is
expected by the mid 21st century. However, it may take a decade or two longer in polar regions. Climate
change can also affect UV radiation through changes in cloudiness and albedo, without involving
ozone and since temperature changes over the 21st century are likely to be about 5 times greater than in
the past century. This is likely to have significant effects on future cloud, aerosol and surface reflectivity.
Consequently, unless strong mitigation measures are undertaken with respect to climate change,
profound effects on the biosphere and on the solar UV radiation received at the Earth’s surface can be
anticipated. The future remains uncertain. Ozone is expected to increase slowly over the decades ahead,
but it is not known whether ozone will return to higher levels, or lower levels, than those present prior
to the onset of ozone depletion in the 1970s. There is even greater uncertainty about future UV
radiation, since it will be additionally influenced by changes in aerosols and clouds.



  • Biological Sciences


  • Photobiology
  • Photobiology
  • ISSN: 1474-9092

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