Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
Research article
07 Feb 2013
Research article |  | 07 Feb 2013

Retrieval interval mapping: a tool to visualize the impact of the spectral retrieval range on differential optical absorption spectroscopy evaluations

L. Vogel, H. Sihler, J. Lampel, T. Wagner, and U. Platt

Abstract. Remote sensing via differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) has become a standard technique to identify and quantify trace gases in the atmosphere. Due to the wide range of measurement conditions, atmospheric compositions and instruments used, a specific challenge of a DOAS retrieval is to optimize the retrieval parameters for each specific case and particular trace gas of interest. Of these parameters, the retrieval wavelength range is one of the most important ones. Although for many trace gases the overall dependence of common DOAS retrieval on the evaluation wavelength interval is known, a systematic approach for finding the optimal retrieval wavelength range and quantitative assessment is missing. Here we present a novel tool to visualize the effect of different evaluation wavelength ranges. It is based on mapping retrieved column densities in the retrieval wavelength space and thus visualizing the consequences of different choices of spectral retrieval ranges caused by slightly erroneous absorption cross sections, cross correlations and instrumental features. Based on the information gathered, an optimal retrieval wavelength range may be determined systematically.

The technique is demonstrated using examples of a theoretical study of BrO retrievals for stratospheric BrO and BrO measurements in volcanic plumes. However, due to the general nature of the tool, it is applicable to any type of DOAS retrieval (active or passive).