UK Stratospheric Ozone and UV Measurements

The earth's surrounding ozone layer protects us from the harmful effects of Solar UV radiation. This protective ozone layer should not be confused with ozone pollution at ground level which can be harmful to public health, materials, crops and ecosystems.

Under the terms of the Montreal Protocol the UK Government is committed to continuing to monitor the state of the ozone layer over the UK. There is no ozone hole over us comparable to that which appears over the Antarctic region during the southern Hemisphere spring (August to December) each year. However, it is important for us to understand how ozone over the UK varies from day-to-day and year-on-year. This provides an important contribution to overall global research into the projected recovery of the ozone layer as man-made ozone depleting chemicals (e.g. CFCs) in the upper atmosphere are gradually reduced.

Why we measure Stratospheric Ozone and UV radiation above the UK

The UK Government is party to the Montreal protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, which is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion.

As the ozone layer thins, more UV radiation reaches the Earth. This can have a profound effect on the skin causing premature skin aging, skin cancer, and a host of skin changes. Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA or UVB, from sunlight accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature skin aging. Many skin changes that were commonly believed to be due to aging, such as easy bruising, are actually a result of prolonged exposure to UV radiation.

Monitoring and reporting of Ozone and UV radiation above the UK is therefore carried out in order to further the worldwide scientific understanding of the expected recovery of the ozone layer and the effects of UV radiation exposure.

Who is responsible for Ozone and UV monitoring in the UK

The work programme is the responsibility of Defra through a project entitled "Baseline Measurements and Analysis of UK Ozone and UV".

The project is currently managed by Manchester University on behalf of a consortium of researchers as follows:

  • Met Office – Responsible for Ozone Measurements at Lerwick
  • Manchester University – Management of Ozone and UV Measurements at Reading
  • Reading University – Hosting Daily Ozone and UV Measurements at Reading

In addition, Public Health England has a network of UV monitoring sites across the UK and has sites in Ireland, Gibraltar and Cyprus. The data from these sites are available on the UV Index Graphs page.