Assessment of the TROPOMI tropospheric NO2 product based on airborne APEX observations

Frederik Tack, Alexis Merlaud, Marian-Daniel Iordache, Gaia Pinardi, Ermioni Dimitropoulou, Henk Eskes, Bart Bomans, Pepijn Veefkind, Michel Van Roozendael
2021 Atmospheric Measurement Techniques  
Abstract. Sentinel-5 Precursor (S-5P), launched in October 2017, carrying the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) nadir-viewing spectrometer, is the first mission of the Copernicus Programme dedicated to the monitoring of air quality, climate, and ozone. In the presented study, the TROPOMI tropospheric nitrogen dioxide (NO2) level-2 (L2) product (OFFL v1.03.01; 3.5 km × 7 km at nadir observations) has been validated over strongly polluted urban regions by comparison with coincident
more » ... -resolution Airborne Prism EXperiment (APEX) remote sensing observations (∼ 75 m × 120 m). Satellite products can be optimally assessed based on (APEX) airborne remote sensing observations, as a large amount of satellite pixels can be fully mapped at high accuracy and in a relatively short time interval, reducing the impact of spatiotemporal mismatches. In the framework of the S-5P validation campaign over Belgium (S5PVAL-BE), the APEX imaging spectrometer has been deployed during four mapping flights (26–29 June 2019) over the two largest urban regions in Belgium, i.e. Brussels and Antwerp, in order to map the horizontal distribution of tropospheric NO2. For each flight, 10 to 20 TROPOMI pixels were fully covered by approximately 2700 to 4000 APEX measurements within each TROPOMI pixel. The TROPOMI and APEX NO2 vertical column density (VCD) retrieval schemes are similar in concept. Overall, for the ensemble of the four flights, the standard TROPOMI NO2 VCD product is well correlated (R = 0.92) but biased negatively by −1.2 ± 1.2 × 1015 molec cm−2 or −14 ± 12 %, on average, with respect to coincident APEX NO2 retrievals. When replacing the coarse 1∘ × 1∘ the massively parallel (MP) version of the Tracer Model version 5 (TM5) a priori NO2 profiles by NO2 profile shapes from the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) regional chemistry transport model (CTM) ensemble at 0.1∘ × 0.1∘, R is 0.94 and the slope increases from 0.82 to 0.93. The bias is reduced to −0.1 ± 1.0 × 1015 molec cm−2 or −1.0 ± 12 %. The absolute difference is on average 1.3 × 1015 molec cm−2 (16 %) and 0.7 × 1015 molec cm−2 (9 %), when comparing APEX NO2 VCDs with TM5-MP-based and CAMS-based NO2 VCDs, respectively. Both sets of retrievals are well within the mission accuracy requirement of a maximum bias of 25 %–50 % for the TROPOMI tropospheric NO2 product for all individual compared pixels. Additionally, the APEX data set allows the study of TROPOMI subpixel variability and impact of signal smoothing due to its finite satellite pixel size, typically coarser than fine-scale gradients in the urban NO2 field. For a case study in the Antwerp region, the current TROPOMI data underestimate localized enhancements and overestimate background values by approximately 1–2 × 1015 molec cm−2 (10 %–20 %).
doi:10.5194/amt-14-615-2021 fatcat:pg27aqsmw5ca7i6lwlqdrkcb4e