1National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
2Université de Toulouse, Toulouse, France
3Laboratoire d'Aérologie, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse, France
4Forschungszentrum Jülich, 52425 Jülich, Germany
*now at: Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Gif-Sur-Yvette, France
Abstract. The measurements of the ozone vertical profiles are valuable for the evaluation of atmospheric chemistry models and contribute to the understanding of the processes controlling the distribution of tropospheric ozone. The longest record of the ozone vertical profiles is provided by ozone sondes, which have a low time resolution with a typical frequency of 12 or 4 profiles a month. Here we discuss and quantify the uncertainty in the analysis of such data sets using high frequency MOZAIC (Measurements of OZone, water vapor, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides by in-service AIrbus airCraft) profiles data sets, such as the one over Frankfurt. We subsampled the MOZAIC data set at the two typical ozone sonde frequencies. We find that the uncertainty introduced by the coarser sampling is around 8% for a 12 profiles a month frequency (14% for a 4 profiles a month frequency) in the free troposphere over Frankfurt. As a consequence, this uncertainty at the lowest frequency is higher than the typical 10% accuracy of the ozone sondes and should be carefully considered for observation comparison and model evaluation. We found that the average intra-seasonal variability represented in the samples is similar to the sampling uncertainty and could also be used as an estimate of the sampling error in some Northern Hemisphere cases. The sampling impacts substantially the inter annual variability and the trend derived over the period 1995–2008 both in magnitude and in sign throughout the troposphere. Therefore, the sampling effect could be part of the observed discrepancies between European sites. Similar results regarding the sampling uncertainty are found at five other Northern Hemispheric sites. Also, a tropical case is discussed using the MOZAIC profiles taken over Windhoek, Namibia between 2005 and 2008.