Articles | Volume 7, issue 2
Research article
06 Feb 2014
Research article |  | 06 Feb 2014

Monitoring the lowermost tropospheric ozone with thermal infrared observations from a geostationary platform: performance analyses for a future dedicated instrument

P. Sellitto, G. Dufour, M. Eremenko, J. Cuesta, G. Forêt, B. Gaubert, M. Beekmann, V.-H. Peuch, and J.-M. Flaud

Abstract. In this paper, we present performance analyses for a concept geostationary observing system called MAGEAQ (Monitoring the Atmosphere from Geostationary orbit for European Air Quality). The MAGEAQ mission is designed to include a TIR (thermal infrared) spectrometer and a broadband VIS (visible) radiometer; in this work we study only the TIR component (MAGEAQ-TIR). We have produced about 20 days of MAGEAQ-TIR tropospheric ozone pseudo-observations with a full forward and inverse radiative transfer pseudo-observations simulator. We have studied the expected sensitivity of MAGEAQ-TIR and we have found that it is able to provide a full single piece of information for the ozone column from surface to 6 km (about 1.0 DOF (degrees of freedom) and maximum sensitivity at about 3.0 km, on average), as well as a partially independent surface–3 km ozone column (about 0.6 DOF and maximum sensitivity at about 2.5 km, on average). Then, we have compared the tropospheric ozone profiles and the lower (surface–6 km) and lowermost (surface–3 km) tropospheric ozone column pseudo-observations to the target pseudo-reality, produced with the MOCAGE (MOdèle de Chimie Atmosphérique à Grande Echelle) chemistry and transport model. We have found very small to not significant average biases (< 1% in absolute value, for the surface–6 km TOC (tropospheric ozone column), and about −2 to −3 %, for the surface–3 km TOC) and small RMSEs (root mean square errors; about 1.3 DU (5%), for the surface–6 km TOC, and about 1.5 DU (10%), for the surface–3 km TOC). We have tested the performance of MAGEAQ-TIR at some selected small (0.2° × 0.2°) urban and rural locations. We have found that, while the vertical structures of the lower tropospheric ozone pseudo-reality are sometimes missed, MAGEAQ-TIR's lower and lowermost column pseudo-observations follow stunningly good the MOCAGE column pseudo-reality, with correlation coefficients reaching values of 0.9 or higher. Unprecedented retrieval performance for the lowermost tropospheric ozone column is shown. In any case, our MAGEAQ-TIR pseudo-observations are only partially able to replicate the MOCAGE pseudo-reality variability and temporal cycle at the very lowest layers (surface and 1 km altitude), especially at southern European urban locations, where the photochemistry signal is partially missed or shifted at higher altitudes. Temporal artifacts on the daily cycle are sometimes observed. Stratospheric-to-tropospheric exchanges during short time periods (of the order of 1 day) are detected by the MAGEAQ-TIR pseudo-observations.