Over the past few decades, the atmospheric science community has found it beneficial to establish routine programs to monitor various surface radiation quantities. During the early 1970s, a focus on the potential national benefit for using solar radiation as an energy source prompted the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) to begin monitoring solar radiation at its Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory, currently known as the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL); see http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/publications/annrpt23/ chapter3_2.htm. Although this initial interest in solar energy waned somewhat before its recent revival, the launch of the first meteorological satellites excited climate scientists by making estimates of the earth's radiation budget feasible from space. The first part of this effort started in the mid 1980s with the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE), during which time surface monitoring of the radiation budget fields received renewed attention (Barkstrom, 1984). In the years that followed, as the need for more accurate estimates of the solar radiation budget for application in higher resolution climate models became desirable, and the concern over global climate change increased, the US Department of Energy funded the development of the Atmospheric Radiation Monitoring Program in 1989 (see http://www.arm.gov/about/). Satellite observations revealed another potential impact of anthropogenic activity during the 1980s, namely the observed depletion of stratospheric ozone in the Antarctic area (Farman et al., 1985; WMO, 1989; Stolarski et al., 1992) and the Arctic. These observations raised serious concerns in the scientific community of concomitant increases in ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation reaching the earth's surface (Frederick and Snell, 1988; Scotto et al., 1988; Grant, 1988; Worrest et al., 1989; Blumthaler and Ambach, 1990; Smith et al., 1992; Kerr and McElroy, 1993; Jaque et al., 1994; Herman et al., 1996) and its detrimental effects on plants, animals, ecosystems, and human health. These concerns led to the establishment of a network for monitoring solar radiation that was not concerned with the total solar and infrared spectrum, but rather specifically focused on the challenge of monitoring the UV radiation reaching the earth's surface, for evaluation of potential impact on crop yield and nutrition, and for assessing possible impacts on human and animal health (Caldwell et al., 1986;
Teramura et al., 1990). The purpose of this chapter is to document the activities associated with the monitoring of UV radiation, which has become one focus of the United States Department of Agriculture's UV-B Monitoring and Research Program.
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Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.