Was UV spectral solar irradiance lower during the recent low sunspot minimum?

A detailed analysis is presented of solar UV spectral irradiance for the period between May 2003 and August 2005, when data are available from both the Solar Ultraviolet Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM) instrument (on board the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) spacecraft) and the Solar Stellar Irradiance Comparison Experiment (SOLSTICE) instrument (on board the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite). The ultimate aim is to develop a data composite that can be used to accurately determine any differences between the “exceptional” solar minimum at the end of solar cycle 23 and the previous minimum at the end of solar cycle 22 without having to rely on proxy data to set the long-term change. SUSIM data are studied because they are the only data available in the “SOLSTICE gap” between the end of available UARS SOLSTICE data and the start of the SORCE data. At any one wavelength the two data sets are considered too dissimilar to be combined into a meaningful composite if any one of three correlations does not exceed a threshold of 0.8. This criterion removes all wavelengths except those in a small range between 156 nm and 208 nm, the longer wavelengths of which influence ozone production and heating in the lower stratosphere. Eight different methods are employed to intercalibrate the two data sequences. All methods give smaller changes between the minima than are seen when the data are not adjusted; however, correcting the SUSIM data to allow for an exponentially decaying offset drift gives a composite that is largely consistent with the unadjusted data from the SOLSTICE instruments on both UARS and SORCE and in which the recent minimum is consistently lower in the wave band studied. http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010JD014746

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