Current and future impacts of ultraviolet radiation on the terrestrial carbon balance

  • W. Kolby SmithEmail author
  • Wei Gao
  • Heidi Steltzer
Review Article


One of the most documented effects of human activity on our environment is the reduction of stratospheric ozone resulting in an increase of biologically harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In a less predictable manner, UV radiation incident at the surface of the earth is expected to be further modified in the future as a result of altered cloud condition, atmospheric aerosol concentration, and snow cover. Although UV radiation comprises only a small fraction of the total solar radiation that is incident at the earth’s surface, it has the greatest energy per unit wavelength and, thus, the greatest potential to damage the biosphere. Recent investigations have highlighted numerous ways that UV radiation could potentially affect a variety of ecological processes, including nutrient cycling and the terrestrial carbon cycle. The objectives of the following literature review are to summarize and synthesize the available information relevant to the effects of UV radiation and other climate change factors on the terrestrial carbon balance in an effort to highlight current gaps in knowledge and future research directions for UV radiation research.


climate change UV-B ultraviolet radiation solar radiation carbon cycle ozone photodegradation nutrient cycling 


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USDA UV-B Monitoring and Research Program, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Department 1499Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Department 1499Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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