In the early days of NDACC (then NDSC), the Infrared Working Group (IRWG) targeted the retrieval of total columns of several gases considered of primary importance to the original goals of the Network. These goals focused on increasing our understanding of ozone chemistry and, in the post-Montreal Protocol period, observing the accumulation (and hopefully the eventual decline) of Cly and Fy in the stratosphere. Consequently, the initial gases targeted were ozone, nitric acid (HNO3), nitrous oxide (N2O ), chlorine nitrate (ClONO2), hydrogen chloride (HCl), and hydrogen fluoride (HF).
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Since the onset of formal operations, NDACC (formerly NDSC) has designated several specific instrument types as official measurement capabilities. These are: Dobson / Brewer Spectrometers, Fourier Transform IR Spectrometers (FTIRs), Lidars (temperature, ozone, and aerosol), Microwave Radiometers, and UV/Visible Spectrometers. Balloon Sondes (ozone and aerosol) and UV Spectroradiometers were added shortly after the Network became operational. The Network strives to maintain the operation of as many of these instrument types within the various latitude regions as possible.
NDACC recognizes the importance of new measurement capabilities and of existing capabilities whose heritage was developed external to NDACC, and has encouraged Network affiliation with such measurements. In some cases, there are regional, hemispheric, or even global networks of instruments that operate independently of NDACC, but where strong measurement and scientific collaboration would be mutually beneficial.
At the 2008 NDACC Steering Committee meeting, a decision was made to remove the "Primary" and "Complementary" designations of NDACC measurement sites / stations. These original terminologies were instituted at the inception of the Network for designating a minimum of five stations with long-term measurement commitments, representing the major geographical regions of the globe (i.e., Arctic, Northern Hemisphere (NH) Midlatitudes, Tropics, Southern Hemisphere (SH) Midlatitudes, and Antarctic).