Attempts to probe the ozone layer and the ultraviolet-B levels of the past

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Abstract

To get a proper perspective on the current status of atmospheric ozone, which protects the biosphere from ultraviolet-B (UV-B; 280-315 nm) radiation, it would be of value to know how ozone and UV-13 radiation have varied in the past. The record of worldwide ozone monitoring goes back only a few decades, and the record of reliable UV-13 measurements is even shorter. Here we review indirect methods to assess their status further back in time. These include variations in the Sun's emission and how these affect the atmosphere, changes in the Earth's orbit, geologic imprints of atmospheric ozone, effects of catastrophic events such as volcanic eruptions, biological proxies of UV-13 radiation, the spectral signature of terrestrial ozone in old recordings of star spectra, and the modeling of UV-B irradiance from ozone data and meteorological recordings. Although reliable reconstructions do not yet extend far into the past, there is some hope for future progress.

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  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-371
JournalAmbio
Volume36
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes