How to most effectively expand the global surface ozone observing network

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Surface ozone observations with modern instrumentation have been made around the world for almost 50 years. Some of these observations have been made as one-off activities with short term, specific science objectives and some have been made as part of wider networks which have provided a foundational infrastructure of data collection, calibration, quality control and dissemination. These observations provide a fundamental underpinning to our understanding of tropospheric chemistry, air quality policy, atmosphere-biosphere interactions, etc. Sofen et al. (2015) brought together 8 of these networks to provide a single dataset of surface ozone observations. We investigate how representative this combined dataset is of global surface ozone using the output from a global atmospheric chemistry model. We estimate that on an area basis, 25 % of the globe is observed (34 % land, 21 % ocean). Whereas Europe and North America have almost complete coverage, other continents such as Africa, South America and Asia (12���17 show significant gaps. Antarctica is surprisingly well observed (78 . Little monitoring occurs over the oceans with the tropical and southern oceans particularly poorly represented. The surface ozone over key biomes such as tropical forests and savanna is almost completely unmonitored. A chemical cluster analysis suggests that a significant number of observations are made of polluted air masses, but cleaner air masses whether over the land or ocean (especially again in the tropics) are significantly under observed. The current network is unlikely to see the impact of ENSO but may be capable of detecting other planetary scale signals. Model assessment and validation activities are hampered by a lack of observations in regions where they models differ substantially, as is the ability to monitor likely changes in surface ozone over the next century.

Using our methodology we are able to suggest new sites which would help to close the gap in our ability to measure global surface ozone. An additional 20 surface ozone monitoring sites (a 20 % increase in the WMO GAW ozone sites or a 1 % increase in the total background network) located on 10 islands and in 10 continental regions would almost double the area observed. The cost of this addition to the network is small compared to other expenditure on atmospheric composition research infrastructure and would provide a significant long term benefit to our understanding of the composition of the atmosphere and in the development of policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21025-21061
Number of pages37
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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