Articles | Volume 3, issue 1
25 Feb 2010
 | 25 Feb 2010

Retrieval of tropospheric column densities of NO2 from combined SCIAMACHY nadir/limb measurements

S. Beirle, S. Kühl, J. Puķīte, and T. Wagner

Abstract. The SCIAMACHY instrument onboard the ESA satellite ENVISAT allows measurements of various atmospheric trace gases, such as NO2. A unique feature of SCIAMACHY is that measurements are made alternately in limb and nadir mode. The limb measurements provide an opportunity for directly determining stratospheric column densities (CDs), which are needed to extract tropospheric CDs from the total CD measurements performed in (quasi simultaneous) nadir geometry.

Here we discuss the potential and limitations of SCIAMACHY limb measurements for estimating stratospheric CDs of NO2 in comparison to a simple reference sector method, and the consequences for the resulting tropospheric CDs. A direct, absolute limb correction scheme is presented that improves spatial patterns of tropospheric NO2 column densities at high latitudes, but results in artificial zonal stripes at low latitudes. Subsequently, a relative limb correction scheme is introduced that successfully reduces stratospheric artefacts in the tropospheric data product without introducing new ones. This relative limb correction scheme is rather simple, robust, and, in essence, based on measurements alone.

The effects of the different stratospheric estimation schemes on tropospheric CDs are discussed with respect to zonal and temporal dependencies. In addition, we define error quantities from the nadir/limb measurements that indicate remaining systematic errors as a function of latitude and day.

Our new suggested stratospheric estimation scheme, the relative limb correction, improves mean tropospheric slant CDs significantly, e.g. from −1×1015 molec/cm2 (using a reference sector method) to ≈0 in the Atlantic ocean, and from +1×1015 molec/cm2 to ≈0 over Siberia, at 50° N in January 2003–2008.