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Uncertainty of measurements of spectral solar UV irradiance

: Bernhard, G.; Seckmeyer, G.


Journal of geophysical research. D, Atmospheres 104 (1999), Nr.12, S.14321-14345 : Ill., Lit.
ISSN: 0148-0227
Fraunhofer IFU; 2002 in Helmholtz-Gesellschaft integriert

Most investigations on the nature and effects of solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation at the Earth's surface require measurements of high accuracy combined with well-defined procedures to assess their quality. Here we present a general evaluation of all relevant errors and uncertainties associated with measurements of spectral global irradiance in the UV. The uncertainties are quantified in terms of dependence of the characteristics of the spectroradiometer, the uncertainty of calibration standards, the solar zenith angle, and atmospheric conditions. The methodologies and equations presented can be applied to most spectroradiometers currently employed for UV research. The sources of error addressed include radiometric calibration, cosine error, spectral resolution, wavelength misalignment, stability, noise, stray light, and timing errors. The practical application of the method is demonstrated by setting up a complete uncertainty table for the mobile spectroradiometer of the Fraunhofer Institute for Atmospheric Environmental Research (IFU). This instrument has successfully participated in several international intercomparisons of UV spectroradiometers. The expanded uncertainty (coverage factor k = 2) for measurements of global spectral irradiance conducted with this instrument varies between 6.3% in the UVA and 12.7% at 300 nm and 60ø solar zenith angle. The expanded uncertainties in erythemally and DNA weighted irradiances are 6.1% and 6.6%, respectively. These expanded uncertainties are comparable to uncertainties at the 2sigma level in conventional statistics. A substantial reduction of these uncertainties would require smaller uncertainties in the irradiance standards used to calibrate the instrument. Though uncertainties caused by wavelength misalignment and noise become prominent in the shortwave UVB, which is the most important spectral range for UV trend detection, the results indicate that the accuracy of the IFU radiometer is sufficient to detect long-term trends in UV arising from a 3% change in atmospheric ozone. The detection of trends caused by a 1% change in ozone may be beyond the capabilities of current instrumentation.