However, it was the discovery of a hole in
the ozone layer which occurs each spring over Antarctica that focused
world attention on the problem and the possible impact that human
activities could have on life and human health, leading to unprecedented
global action. Through the Vienna Convention on the Protection of
the Ozone Layer in 1985, governments committed themselves to protecting
the ozone layer and to co-operating with each other in scientific
research to better understand atmospheric processes.
The thickness of the ozone layer has been
measured for decades at a number of stations using ground-based
measurements like spectrophotometers and upper-air in situ measurements
with balloon sondes. Those measurements constitute a long-term database
of ozone history, but the geographical coverage is incomplete since
large regions like Africa and the oceans were left out.
Ozone has been measured using satellites
ever since the early 1960s, but only about 15 years ago did the
coverage and resolution improve to a point where satellite measurements
of atmospheric ozone could become a useful tool in ozone layer studies.
A major advantage of satellite measurements is the ability to gather
data in remote areas.
Satellite ozone data are mainly used for
monitoring the global and vertical distribution of ozone. The vertical
distribution of ozone in the atmosphere is an important piece of
information for climate study and climate change, while information
on total ozone can help to forecast the weather.