Articles | Volume 7, issue 12
Research article
05 Dec 2014
Research article |  | 05 Dec 2014

Liquid water absorption and scattering effects in DOAS retrievals over oceans

E. Peters, F. Wittrock, A. Richter, L. M. A. Alvarado, V. V. Rozanov, and J. P. Burrows

Abstract. Spectral effects of liquid water are present in absorption (differential optical absorption spectroscopy – DOAS) measurements above the ocean and, if insufficiently removed, may interfere with trace gas absorptions, leading to wrong results. Currently available literature cross sections of liquid water absorption are provided in coarser resolution than DOAS applications require, and vibrational Raman scattering (VRS) is mostly not considered, or is compensated for using simulated pseudo cross sections from radiative transfer modeling.

During the ship-based TransBrom campaign across the western Pacific in October 2009, MAX-DOAS (Multi-AXis differential optical absorption spectroscopy) measurements of light penetrating very clear natural waters were performed, achieving average underwater light paths of up to 50 m. From these measurements, the retrieval of a correction spectrum (H2Ocorr) is presented, compensating simultaneously for insufficiencies in the liquid water absorption cross section and broad-banded VRS structures. Small-banded structures caused by VRS were found to be very efficiently compensated for by the intensity offset correction included in the DOAS fit. No interference between the H2Ocorr spectrum and phytoplankton absorption was found.

In the MAX-DOAS tropospheric NO2 retrieval, this method was able to compensate entirely for all liquid water effects that decrease the fit quality, and performed better than using a liquid water cross section in combination with a simulated VRS spectrum. The decrease in the residual root mean square (rms) of the DOAS fit depends on the measurement's contamination with liquid water structures, and ranges from ≈ 30% for measurements slightly towards the water surface to several percent in small angles above the horizon. Furthermore, the H2Ocorr spectrum was found to prevent misfits of NO2 slant columns, especially for very low NO2 scenarios, and thus increases the reliability of the fit. In test fits on OMI satellite data, the H2Ocorr spectrum was found selectively above ocean surfaces, where it decreases the rms by up to ≈ 11%.

Short summary
In this study, a correction spectrum accounting for insufficiencies in commonly used liquid water absorption spectra in DOAS applications is retrieved from ship-borne field measurements. The correction spectrum compensates at the same time for broadband parts of vibrational Raman scattering. With this, an entire compensation of liquid water spectral effects in DOAS applications was achieved.