Trace gas measurements from whole air samples collected weekly into glass flasks at background monitoring sites within the NOAA Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network program (with most of the sites also being World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) stations) were used to investigate the variability-lifetime relationship for site characterization and to estimate regional and seasonal OH concentrations. Chemical species considered include the atmospheric trace gases CO, H2, and CH4, as well as the non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) ethane (C2H6), propane (C3H8), i-butane (i-C4H10), and n-butane (n-C4H10). The correlation between atmospheric variability and lifetime was applied on a global scale spanning 42 sites with observations covering a period of 5 years.... More than 50,000 individual flask measurement results were included in this analysis, making this the most extensive study of the variability-lifetime relationship to date. Regression variables calculated from the variability-lifetime relationship were used to assess the “remoteness” of sampling sites and to estimate the effect of local pollution on the measured distribution of atmospheric trace gases. It was found that this relationship yields reasonable results for description of the site remoteness and local pollution influences. Comparisons of seasonal calculated OH concentrations ([OH]) from the variability-lifetime relationships with six direct station measurements yielded variable agreement, with deviations ranging from ∼20% to a factor of ∼2–3 for locations where [OH] monitoring results had been reported. [OH] calculated from the variability-lifetime relationships was also compared to outputs from a global atmospheric model. Resutls were highly variable, with approximately half of the sites yielding agreement to within a factor of 2–3, while others showed deviations of up to an order of magnitude, especially during winter.