Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
Research article
10 Mar 2017
Research article |  | 10 Mar 2017

Investigating differences in DOAS retrieval codes using MAD-CAT campaign data

Enno Peters, Gaia Pinardi, André Seyler, Andreas Richter, Folkard Wittrock, Tim Bösch, Michel Van Roozendael, François Hendrick, Theano Drosoglou, Alkiviadis F. Bais, Yugo Kanaya, Xiaoyi Zhao, Kimberly Strong, Johannes Lampel, Rainer Volkamer, Theodore Koenig, Ivan Ortega, Olga Puentedura, Mónica Navarro-Comas, Laura Gómez, Margarita Yela González, Ankie Piters, Julia Remmers, Yang Wang, Thomas Wagner, Shanshan Wang, Alfonso Saiz-Lopez, David García-Nieto, Carlos A. Cuevas, Nuria Benavent, Richard Querel, Paul Johnston, Oleg Postylyakov, Alexander Borovski, Alexander Elokhov, Ilya Bruchkouski, Haoran Liu, Cheng Liu, Qianqian Hong, Claudia Rivera, Michel Grutter, Wolfgang Stremme, M. Fahim Khokhar, Junaid Khayyam, and John P. Burrows

Abstract. The differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) method is a well-known remote sensing technique that is nowadays widely used for measurements of atmospheric trace gases, creating the need for harmonization and characterization efforts. In this study, an intercomparison exercise of DOAS retrieval codes from 17 international groups is presented, focusing on NO2 slant columns. The study is based on data collected by one instrument during the Multi-Axis DOAS Comparison campaign for Aerosols and Trace gases (MAD-CAT) in Mainz, Germany, in summer 2013. As data from the same instrument are used by all groups, the results are free of biases due to instrumental differences, which is in contrast to previous intercomparison exercises.

While in general an excellent correlation of NO2 slant columns between groups of  >  99.98 % (noon reference fits) and  >  99.2 % (sequential reference fits) for all elevation angles is found, differences between individual retrievals are as large as 8 % for NO2 slant columns and 100 % for rms residuals in small elevation angles above the horizon.

Comprehensive sensitivity studies revealed that absolute slant column differences result predominantly from the choice of the reference spectrum while relative differences originate from the numerical approach for solving the DOAS equation as well as the treatment of the slit function. Furthermore, differences in the implementation of the intensity offset correction were found to produce disagreements for measurements close to sunrise (8–10 % for NO2, 80 % for rms residual). The largest effect of  ≈  8 % difference in NO2 was found to arise from the reference treatment; in particular for fits using a sequential reference. In terms of rms fit residual, the reference treatment has only a minor impact. In contrast, the wavelength calibration as well as the intensity offset correction were found to have the largest impact (up to 80 %) on rms residual while having only a minor impact on retrieved NO2 slant columns.

Short summary
This work is about harmonization of differential optical absorption spectroscopy retrieval codes, which is a remote sensing technique widely used to derive atmospheric trace gas amounts. The study is based on ground-based measurements performed during the Multi-Axis DOAS Comparison campaign for Aerosols and Trace gases (MAD-CAT) in Mainz, Germany, in summer 2013. In total, 17 international groups working in the field of the DOAS technique participated in this study.