I describe a method to derive biologically effective UV dose rates, total ozone abundances, and cloud optical depths from irradiance measurements with moderate bandwidth filter instruments that have only a few channels in the UV region. These quantities are determined when the measured irradiances are combined with radiative transfer calculations. The method was applied to a four-channel filter instrument with center wavelengths at 305, 320, 340, and 380 nm and bandwidths of 10 nm. I compared the instrument with a high-wavelength-resolution spectroradiometer during a 1-week period in San Diego, California, with variable cloudiness. The relative difference in Commission Internationale de l’Éclairage (CIE)-weighted UV dose rates for solar zenith angle’s (SZA’s) < 80° was 1.4 ± 3.2%. The relative difference for clear sky was 0.6 ± 1.5% for SZA’s < 80°. The total ozone inferred from the irradiance measurements with the filter instrument is insensitive to clouds. The instrument was compared with a Dobson and a Brewer instrument in Oslo, Norway, 60 °N, for more than 1 year. The relative difference in derived ozone abundance for the entire period, including cloudy days, was 0.3 ± 2.9%. The standard deviation was reduced to 1.9% when only clear sky and SZA’s < 60° were included. By using the total ozone and the cloud optical depth derived from the filter instrument as input to a radiative transfer model, one can compute a complete spectrum from 290 to 400 nm with 1-nm resolution. Such calculated spectra are in good agreement with spectra measured simultaneously with a high-wavelength-resolution spectroradiometer for clear as well as cloudy sky conditions and can be used to determine dose rates for any desired action spectrum. Only one UV-B channel and one UV-A channel are required to compute the spectra.
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