Articles | Volume 9, issue 8
Research article
18 Aug 2016
Research article |  | 18 Aug 2016

On instrumental errors and related correction strategies of ozonesondes: possible effect on calculated ozone trends for the nearby sites Uccle and De Bilt

Roeland Van Malderen, Marc A. F. Allaart, Hugo De Backer, Herman G. J. Smit, and Dirk De Muer

Abstract. The ozonesonde stations at Uccle (Belgium) and De Bilt (the Netherlands) are separated by only 175 km but use different ozonesonde types (or different manufacturers for the same electrochemical concentration cell (ECC) type), operating procedures, and correction strategies. As such, these stations form a unique test bed for the Ozonesonde Data Quality Assessment (O3S-DQA) activity, which aims at providing a revised, homogeneous, consistent dataset with an altitude-dependent estimated uncertainty for each revised profile. For the ECC ozonesondes at Uccle mean relative uncertainties in the 4–6 % range are obtained. To study the impact of the corrections on the ozone profiles and trends, we compared the Uccle and De Bilt average ozone profiles and vertical ozone trends, calculated from the operational corrections at both stations and the O3S-DQA corrected profiles.

In the common ECC 1997–2014 period, the O3S-DQA corrections effectively reduce the differences between the Uccle and De Bilt ozone partial pressure values with respect to the operational corrections only for the stratospheric layers below the ozone maximum. The upper-stratospheric ozone measurements at both sites are substantially different, regardless of the correction methodology used. The origin of this difference is not clear. The discrepancies in the tropospheric ozone concentrations between both sites can be ascribed to the problematic background measurement and correction at De Bilt, especially in the period before November 1998. The Uccle operational correction method, applicable to both ozonesonde types used, diminishes the relative stratospheric ozone differences of the Brewer–Mast sondes in the 1993–1996 period with De Bilt to less than 5 % and to less than 6 % in the free troposphere for the De Bilt operational corrections.

Despite their large impact on the average ozone profiles, the different (sensible) correction strategies do not change the ozone trends significantly, usually only within their statistical uncertainty due to atmospheric noise. The O3S-DQA corrections bring the Uccle and De Bilt ozone trend estimates for 1997–2014 closer to each other in the lower stratosphere and lower troposphere. Throughout the whole vertical profile, these trend estimates are, however, not significantly different from each other, and only in the troposphere significantly positive. For the entire Uccle observation period (1969–2014), the operational corrections lead to height-independent and consistent ozone trends for both the troposphere and the stratosphere, with rates of +2 to +3 % decade−1 and −1 to −2 % decade−1, respectively.

Short summary
Thanks to the Montreal Protocol regulations for ozone-depleting substances, the decline of ozone concentrations has been stopped. A remaining major issue today is if the onset of ozone recovery can be detected. Ozonesondes have provided vertical distribution of ozone with high vertical resolution for several decades. In this study, we investigate how different operating procedures at ozonesonde stations and different ozonesonde data correction strategies affect trends in ozone concentrations.