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Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet Instrument (SBUV/2)



The Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet instrument currently onboard the NOAA-16 polar orbiting satellite measures the ultraviolet sunlight scattered by the Earth's atmosphere at several wavelengths ranging from 252 nanometers (nm) to 340 nm. Measurements at the shortest eight wavelengths are used to estimate ozone vertical profiles by using a maximum likelihood retrieval algorithm. Measurements at the longer four wavelengths, which penetrate into the lower atmosphere, are used to obtain estimates of total column ozone. Total ozone is calculated by using the ratio of two wavelengths of backscattered


schematic of a POES satellite in space
One of NOAA's polar orbiting satellites carrying the SBUV/2 instrument.


ultraviolet light where one is strongly absorbed by ozone while the other is absorbed very little. For example, the ratio betwee 312 nm and 331 nm can be used in this calculation of total columnar ozone.

Ozone measurements via satellite have been made by this type of backscatter ultraviolet
instrument since the launch of the Nimbus-4 satellite in April 1970. The improved Solar
Backscatter Ultraviolet Instrument (SBUV) was launched in November 1978 and continued until the second generation instrument, the SBUV/2, began with the NOAA TIROS series of satellites in 1984.

Operational monitoring of stratospheric ozone began in 1985 with the NOAA-9 satellite and continued to present with the NOAA-11, NOAA-14 and NOAA-16 series. The latest in the series of NOAA polar orbiting satellites, NOAA-M, will also be equipped with an SBUV/2 ozone-measuring instrument when it launches in 2002.

For additional information on the SBUV/2, visit the NOAA-KLM SBUV/2 website and see sections 3.8 and 7.4. Also visit NOAA/NESDIS's SBUV/2 web site. Raw retrieval data (not maps, as are provided at sites available through links under the data menu on this page) are available through NCDC's satellite services and by anonymous ftp in the pub/crad2/ directory.



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Last updated on 23 February 2010 by