Articles | Volume 9, issue 5
Research article
13 May 2016
Research article |  | 13 May 2016

Quantification and parametrization of non-linearity effects by higher-order sensitivity terms in scattered light differential optical absorption spectroscopy

Jānis Puķīte and Thomas Wagner

Abstract. We address the application of differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) of scattered light observations in the presence of strong absorbers (in particular ozone), for which the absorption optical depth is a non-linear function of the trace gas concentration. This is the case because Beer–Lambert law generally does not hold for scattered light measurements due to many light paths contributing to the measurement. While in many cases linear approximation can be made, for scenarios with strong absorptions non-linear effects cannot always be neglected. This is especially the case for observation geometries, for which the light contributing to the measurement is crossing the atmosphere under spatially well-separated paths differing strongly in length and location, like in limb geometry. In these cases, often full retrieval algorithms are applied to address the non-linearities, requiring iterative forward modelling of absorption spectra involving time-consuming wavelength-by-wavelength radiative transfer modelling. In this study, we propose to describe the non-linear effects by additional sensitivity parameters that can be used e.g. to build up a lookup table. Together with widely used box air mass factors (effective light paths) describing the linear response to the increase in the trace gas amount, the higher-order sensitivity parameters eliminate the need for repeating the radiative transfer modelling when modifying the absorption scenario even in the presence of a strong absorption background. While the higher-order absorption structures can be described as separate fit parameters in the spectral analysis (so-called DOAS fit), in practice their quantitative evaluation requires good measurement quality (typically better than that available from current measurements). Therefore, we introduce an iterative retrieval algorithm correcting for the higher-order absorption structures not yet considered in the DOAS fit as well as the absorption dependence on temperature and scattering processes.

Short summary
We address specialities of differential optical absorption spectroscopy of scattered light in the presence of strong absorbers (like ozone), where the optical depth becomes a non-linear function of the absorber concentration. We quantify the non-linearity using higher-order terms by expanding the radiative transfer equation in a Taylor series.