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Meteorological normalisation and non-parametric smoothing for quality assessment and trend analysis of tropospheric ozone data

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Despite extensive efforts to ensure that sampling and installation and maintenance of instruments are as efficient as possible when monitoring air pollution data, there is still an indisputable need for statistical post processing (quality assessment). We examined data on tropospheric ozone and found that meteorological normalisation can reveal (i) errors that have not been eliminated by established procedures for quality assurance and control of collected data, as well as (ii) inaccuracies that may have a detrimental effect on the results of statistical tests for temporal trends. Moreover, we observed that the quality assessment of collected data could be further strengthened by combining meteorological normalisation with non-parametric smoothing techniques for seasonal adjustment and detection of sudden shifts in level. Closer examination of apparent trends in tropospheric ozone records from EMEP (European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme) sites in Finland showed that, even if potential raw data errors were taken into account, there was strong evidence of upward trends during winter and early spring.

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