Articles | Volume 10, issue 12
Research article
05 Dec 2017
Research article |  | 05 Dec 2017

A more representative “best representative value” for daily total column ozone reporting

Andrew R. D. Smedley, John S. Rimmer, and Ann R. Webb

Abstract. Long-term trends of total column ozone (TCO), assessments of stratospheric ozone recovery, and satellite validation are underpinned by a reliance on daily best representative values from Brewer spectrophotometers and other ground-based ozone instruments. In turn reporting of these daily total column ozone values to the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre (WOUDC) has traditionally been predicated upon a simple choice between direct sun (DS) and zenith sky (ZS) observations. For mid- and high-latitude monitoring sites impacted by cloud cover we discuss the potential deficiencies of this approach in terms of its rejection of otherwise valid observations and capability to evenly sample throughout the day. A new methodology is proposed that makes full use of all valid direct sun and zenith sky observations, accounting for unevenly spaced observations and their relative uncertainty, to calculate an improved estimate of the daily mean total column ozone. It is demonstrated that this method can increase the number of contributing observations by a factor of 2.5, increases the sampled time span, and reduces the spread of the representative time by half. The largest improvements in the daily mean estimate are seen on days with the smallest number of contributing direct sun observations. No effect on longer-term trends is detected, though for the sample data analysed we observe a mean increase of 2.8 DU (0.82 %) with respect to the traditional direct sun vs. zenith sky average choice. To complement the new calculation of a best representative value of total column ozone and separate its uncertainty from the spread of observations, we also propose reporting its standard error rather than the standard deviation, together with measures of the full range of values observed.

Short summary
Long-term trends of total column ozone and assessments of its recovery are underpinned by daily “best representative values” from Brewer spectrophotometers and other ground-based instruments. However, the current calculation of these best representative values often rejects otherwise useful data and has deficiencies during partly cloudy days. We propose a new methodology that takes into account all valid data and accounts for unevenly spaced observations and their uncertainties.