Articles | Volume 15, issue 13
Research article
09 Jul 2015
Research article |  | 09 Jul 2015

Comparison of OMI UV observations with ground-based measurements at high northern latitudes

G. Bernhard, A. Arola, A. Dahlback, V. Fioletov, A. Heikkilä, B. Johnsen, T. Koskela, K. Lakkala, T. Svendby, and J. Tamminen

Abstract. The Dutch–Finnish Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on board NASA's Aura spacecraft provides estimates of erythemal (sunburning) ultraviolet (UV) dose rates and erythemal daily doses. These data were compared with ground-based measurements at 13 stations located throughout the Arctic and Scandinavia from 60 to 83° N. The study corroborates results from earlier work, but is based on a longer time series (8 versus 2 years) and considers additional data products, such as the erythemal dose rate at the time of the satellite overpass. Furthermore, systematic errors in satellite UV data resulting from inaccuracies in the surface albedo climatology used in the OMI UV algorithm are systematically assessed. At times when the surface albedo is correctly known, OMI data typically exceed ground-based measurements by 0–11 %. When the OMI albedo climatology exceeds the actual albedo, OMI data may be biased high by as much as 55 %. In turn, when the OMI albedo climatology is too low, OMI data can be biased low by up to 59 %. Such large negative biases may occur when reflections from snow and ice, which increase downwelling UV irradiance, are misinterpreted as reflections from clouds, which decrease the UV flux at the surface. Results suggest that a better OMI albedo climatology would greatly improve the accuracy of OMI UV data products even if year-to-year differences of the actual albedo cannot be accounted for. A pathway for improving the OMI albedo climatology is discussed. Results also demonstrate that ground-based measurements from the center of Greenland, where high, homogenous surface albedo is observed year round, are ideally suited to detect systematic problems or temporal drifts in estimates of surface UV irradiance from space.

Short summary
Surface erythemal UV data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) are validated for high northern latitudes (Arctic and Scandinavia) using ground-based measurements. The bias in OMI data caused by incorrect assumptions of the surface albedo are quantified and the mechanism that causes this bias is discussed. Methods to improve the accuracy of OMI data products are presented.
Final-revised paper