Articles | Volume 5, issue 6
Research article
19 Jun 2012
Research article |  | 19 Jun 2012

CH4, CO, and H2O spectroscopy for the Sentinel-5 Precursor mission: an assessment with the Total Carbon Column Observing Network measurements

A. Galli, A. Butz, R. A. Scheepmaker, O. Hasekamp, J. Landgraf, P. Tol, D. Wunch, N. M. Deutscher, G. C. Toon, P. O. Wennberg, D. W. T. Griffith, and I. Aben

Abstract. The TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) will be part of ESA's Sentinel-5 Precursor (S5P) satellite platform scheduled for launch in 2015. TROPOMI will monitor methane and carbon monoxide concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere by measuring spectra of back-scattered sunlight in the short-wave infrared (SWIR).

S5P will be the first satellite mission to rely uniquely on the spectral window at 4190–4340 cm−1 (2.3 μm) to retrieve CH4 and CO. In this study, we investigated if the absorption features of the three relevant molecules CH4, CO, and H2O are adequately known. To this end, we retrieved total columns of CH4, CO, and H2O from absorption spectra measured by two ground-based Fourier transform spectrometers that are part of the Total Carbon Column Observing Network (TCCON). The retrieval results from the 4190–4340 cm−1 range at the TROPOMI resolution (0.45 cm−1) were then compared to the CH4 results obtained from the 6000 cm−1 region, and the CO results obtained from the 4190–4340 cm−1 region at the higher TCCON resolution (0.02 cm−1).

For TROPOMI-like settings, we were able to reproduce the CH4 columns to an accuracy of 0.3% apart from a constant bias of 1%. The CO retrieval accuracy was, through interference, systematically influenced by the shortcomings of the CH4 and H2O spectroscopy. In contrast to CH4, the CO column error also varied significantly with atmospheric H2O content. Unaddressed, this would introduce seasonal and latitudinal biases to the CO columns retrieved from TROPOMI measurements. We therefore recommend further effort from the spectroscopic community to be directed at the H2O and CH4 spectroscopy in the 4190–4340 cm−1 region.