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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  02 Jan 2020

02 Jan 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Intercomparison of MAX-DOAS vertical profile retrieval algorithms: studies on field data from the CINDI-2 campaign

Jan-Lukas Tirpitz1, Udo Frieß1, François Hendrick2, Carlos Alberti3,a, Marc Allaart4, Arnoud Apituley4, Alkis Bais5, Steffen Beirle6, Stijn Berkhout7, Kristof Bognar8, Tim Bösch9, Ilya Bruchkouski10, Alexander Cede11,12, Ka Lok Chan3,b, Mirjam den Hoed4, Sebastian Donner6, Theano Drosoglou5, Caroline Fayt2, Martina M. Friedrich2, Arnoud Frumau13, Lou Gast7, Clio Gielen2,c, Laura Gomez-Martín14, Nan Hao15, Arjen Hensen13, Bas Henzing13, Christian Hermans2, Junli Jin16, Karin Kreher18, Jonas Kuhn1,6, Johannes Lampel1,19, Ang Li20, Cheng Liu21, Haoran Liu21, Jianzhong Ma17, Alexis Merlaud2, Enno Peters9,d, Gaia Pinardi2, Ankie Piters4, Ulrich Platt1,6, Olga Puentedura14, Andreas Richter9, Stefan Schmitt1, Elena Spinei12,e, Deborah Stein Zweers4, Kimberly Strong8, Daan Swart7, Frederick Tack2, Martin Tiefengraber11,22, René van der Hoff7, Michel van Roozendael2, Tim Vlemmix4, Jan Vonk7, Thomas Wagner6, Yang Wang6, Zhuoru Wang15, Mark Wenig3, Matthias Wiegner3, Folkard Wittrock9, Pinhua Xie20, Chengzhi Xing21, Jin Xu20, Margarita Yela14, Chengxin Zhang21, and Xiaoyi Zhao8,f Jan-Lukas Tirpitz et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Brussels, Belgium
  • 3Meteorological Institute, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany
  • 4Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt, The Netherlands
  • 5Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 6Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 7National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands
  • 8Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • 9Institute for Environmental Physics, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • 10Belarusian State University, Minsk, Belarus
  • 11LuftBlick Earth Observation Technologies, Mutters, Austria
  • 12NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, USA
  • 13Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 14National Institute of Aerospatial Technology (INTA), Madrid, Spain
  • 15Remote Sensing Technology Institute, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 16Meteorological Observation Centre, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China
  • 17Chinese Academy of Meteorology Science, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China
  • 18BK Scientific GmbH, Mainz, Germany
  • 19Airyx GmbH, Justus-von-Liebig-Straße 14, 69214 Eppelheim, Germany
  • 20Anhui Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei, China
  • 21School of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, 230026, Hefei, China
  • 22Department of Atmospheric and Cryospheric Sciences, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  • anow at: Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-ASF), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • bnow at: Remote Sensing Technology Institute (IMF), German Aerospace Center (DLR), Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • cnow at: Institute for Astronomy, KU Leuven, Belgium
  • dnow at: Institute for Protection of Maritime Infrastructures, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • enow at: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA
  • fnow at: Air Quality Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canada

Abstract. Multi-AXis Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (MAX-DOAS) is a well-established ground-based measurement technique for the detection of aerosols and trace gases particularly in the boundary layer and the lower troposphere: ultraviolet- and visible radiation spectra of skylight are analysed to obtain information on different atmospheric parameters, integrated over the light path from space to the instrument. An appropriate set of spectra recorded under different viewing geometries ("Multi-Axis") allows retrieval of tropospheric aerosol and trace gas vertical distributions by applying numerical inversion methods.

The second Cabauw Intercomparison of Nitrogen Dioxide measuring Instruments (CINDI-2) took place in Cabauw (The Netherlands) in September 2016 with the aim of assessing the consistency of MAX-DOAS measurements of tropospheric species (NO2, HCHO, O3, HONO, CHOCHO and O4). This was achieved through the coordinated operation of 36 spectrometers operated by 24 groups from all over the world, together with a wide range of supporting reference observations (in situ analysers, balloon sondes, lidars, Long-Path DOAS, sun photometer and others).

In the presented study, the retrieved CINDI-2 MAX-DOAS trace gas (NO2, HCHO) and aerosol vertical profiles of 15 participating groups using different inversion algorithms are compared and validated against the colocated supporting observations. The profiles were found to be in good qualitative agreement: most participants obtained the same features in the retrieved vertical trace gas and aerosol distributions, however sometimes at different altitudes and of different intensity. Under clear sky conditions, the root-mean-square differences of aerosol optical thicknesses, trace gas (NO2, HCHO) vertical columns and surface concentrations among the results of individual participants vary between 0.01–0.1, (1.5–15) x 1014 molec cm-2 and (0.3–8) x 1010 molec cm-3, respectively. For the comparison against supporting observations, these values increase to 0.02–0.2, (11–55) x 1014 molec cm-2 and (0.8–9) x 1010 molec cm-3. It is likely that a large part of this increase is caused by imperfect spatio-temporal overlap of the different observations.

In contrast to what is often assumed, the MAX-DOAS vertically integrated extinction profiles and the sun photometer total aerosol optical thickness were found to not necessarily being comparable quantities, unless information on the real aerosol vertical distribution is available to account for the low sensitivity of MAX-DOAS observations at higher altitudes.

Jan-Lukas Tirpitz et al.

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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Jan-Lukas Tirpitz et al.

Jan-Lukas Tirpitz et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Multi-axis differential optical absorption spectroscopy (MAX-DOAS) is a ground based remote sensing measurement technique that derives atmospheric aerosol and trace gas vertical profiles from skylight spectra. In this study, consistency and reliability of MAX-DOAS profiles are assessed by applying nine different evaluation algorithms to spectral data recorded during an intercomparison campaign in the Netherlands and by comparing the results to co-located supporting observations.
Multi-axis differential optical absorption spectroscopy (MAX-DOAS) is a ground based remote...