Optical EngineeringMesoscale distributions of ultraviolet spectral irradiance, actinic flux, and photolysis rates derived from multispectral satellite data and radiative transfer models
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Global atmospheric trends in ozone column amount have focused attention on the environmental risk of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Monitoring UV irradiance in diverse and remote locations is necessary to understand the variability of exposure, dose rates, and resultant vulnerability of ecological systems. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) UV-B Monitoring Program maintains a wide network for ground-based continuous measurement of solar radiation in several wavelengths of interest for photosynthesis, plant growth, UV exposure to humans, and photochemistry. This network provides data for analysis of UV climatology and trends at those sites. A satellite-based method to produce mesoscale-resolution mapped distributions of UV spectral irradiance has been developed that utilizes this network data for verification. The methodology combines radiative transfer modeling, multispectral image pixel classification, cloud optical depth retrievals, and auxiliary remote sensing data. Retrieved parameters are compared with ground-based measurements from the USDA network instrumentation at two sites [Poker Flat Research Range, Alaska; 65.12 deg N, 147.43 deg W, 550 m mean sea level (MSL); and Storm Peak Laboratory, Colorado, 40.45 deg N, 106.73 deg W, 3220 m MSL]. The results are used to evaluate the effects of cloud distribution and surface albedo in determining mesoscale variability of UV exposure and photolysis rates in high-latitude and high-altitude environments.