Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
Research article
18 Feb 2013
Research article |  | 18 Feb 2013

Characterisation of GOME-2 formaldehyde retrieval sensitivity

W. Hewson, H. Bösch, M. P. Barkley, and I. De Smedt

Abstract. Formaldehyde (CH2O) is an important tracer of tropospheric photochemistry, whose slant column abundance can be retrieved from satellite measurements of solar backscattered UV radiation, using differential absorption retrieval techniques. In this work a spectral fitting sensitivity analysis is conducted on CH2O slant columns retrieved from the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment 2 (GOME-2) instrument. Despite quite different spectral fitting approaches, the retrieved CH2O slant columns have geographic distributions that generally match expected CH2O sources, though the slant column magnitudes and corresponding uncertainties are particularly sensitive to the retrieval set-up. The choice of spectral fitting window, polynomial order, I0 correction, and inclusion of minor absorbers tend to result in the largest modulations of retrieved slant column magnitude and fit quality. However, application of a reference sector correction using observations over the remote Pacific Ocean is shown to largely homogenise the resulting CH2O vertical columns obtained with different retrieval settings, thereby largely reducing any systematic error sources from spectral fitting.