Articles | Volume 4, issue 12
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 4, 2685–2715, 2011
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 4, 2685–2715, 2011

Research article 12 Dec 2011

Research article | 12 Dec 2011

Inversion of tropospheric profiles of aerosol extinction and HCHO and NO2 mixing ratios from MAX-DOAS observations in Milano during the summer of 2003 and comparison with independent data sets

T. Wagner1, S. Beirle1, T. Brauers2, T. Deutschmann3, U. Frieß3, C. Hak3,*, J. D. Halla4, K. P. Heue1, W. Junkermann5, X. Li2, U. Platt3, and I. Pundt-Gruber3,** T. Wagner et al.
  • 1Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Mainz, Germany
  • 2Institute für Energie- und Klimaforschung Troposphäre (IEK-8), Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany
  • 3Institute for Environmental Physics, University of Heidelberg, Germany
  • 4Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 5Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, IMK-IFU, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  • *now at: Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Kjeller, Norway
  • **now at: Johannes-Kepler-Gymnasium, Weil der Stadt, Germany

Abstract. We present aerosol and trace gas profiles derived from MAX-DOAS observations. Our inversion scheme is based on simple profile parameterisations used as input for an atmospheric radiative transfer model (forward model). From a least squares fit of the forward model to the MAX-DOAS measurements, two profile parameters are retrieved including integrated quantities (aerosol optical depth or trace gas vertical column density), and parameters describing the height and shape of the respective profiles. From these results, the aerosol extinction and trace gas mixing ratios can also be calculated. We apply the profile inversion to MAX-DOAS observations during a measurement campaign in Milano, Italy, September 2003, which allowed simultaneous observations from three telescopes (directed to north, west, south). Profile inversions for aerosols and trace gases were possible on 23 days. Especially in the middle of the campaign (17–20 September 2003), enhanced values of aerosol optical depth and NO2 and HCHO mixing ratios were found. The retrieved layer heights were typically similar for HCHO and aerosols. For NO2, lower layer heights were found, which increased during the day.

The MAX-DOAS inversion results are compared to independent measurements: (1) aerosol optical depth measured at an AERONET station at Ispra; (2) near-surface NO2 and HCHO (formaldehyde) mixing ratios measured by long path DOAS and Hantzsch instruments at Bresso; (3) vertical profiles of HCHO and aerosols measured by an ultra light aircraft. Depending on the viewing direction, the aerosol optical depths from MAX-DOAS are either smaller or larger than those from AERONET observations. Similar comparison results are found for the MAX-DOAS NO2 mixing ratios versus long path DOAS measurements. In contrast, the MAX-DOAS HCHO mixing ratios are generally higher than those from long path DOAS or Hantzsch instruments. The comparison of the HCHO and aerosol profiles from the aircraft showed reasonable agreement with the respective MAX-DOAS layer heights. From the comparison of the results for the different telescopes, it was possible to investigate the internal consistency of the MAX-DOAS observations.

As part of our study, a cloud classification algorithm was developed (based on the MAX-DOAS zenith viewing directions), and the effects of clouds on the profile inversion were investigated. Different effects of clouds on aerosols and trace gas retrievals were found: while the aerosol optical depth is systematically underestimated and the HCHO mixing ratio is systematically overestimated under cloudy conditions, the NO2 mixing ratios are only slightly affected. These findings are in basic agreement with radiative transfer simulations.