Detection of Multidecadal Changes in UVB and Total Ozone Concentrations over the Continental US with NASA TOMS Data and USDA Ground-Based Measurements

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Thinning of the atmospheric ozone layer leads to elevated levels of Ultraviolet-B (UVB) at the Earth's surface, resulting in an increase of health risks to living organisms due to DNA damage. This paper examines the multidecadal changes of total column ozone from 1979 to 2005 with the aid of ground-based UVB stations using the ultraviolet multifilter rotating shadow-band radiometer (UV-MFRSR). For the purpose of demonstration, four USDA ground stations, WA01, CO01, MD01, and AZ01, were selected for detailed comparisons against the satellite data. The major finding of this study is that over the course of the time series, on a monthly scale, the UV index (UVI) has increased at the four selected USDA stations while total ozone has decreased in the continental USA over the past three decades and spatial distributions of UVI and total ozone have shown substantial variations from coastal zones to the Midwest Regions of the USA, yet the tendency toward recovery of ozone layer in the continental USA cannot be fully confirmed. This leads to a conclusion that the UVI changes might have been influenced by other factors in addition to the total ozone in the atmospheric environment across at least 76% of the continental USA.