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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.

  03 Jul 2020

03 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Comparison of formaldehyde tropospheric columns in Australia and New Zealand using MAX-DOAS, FTIR and TROPOMI

Robert G. Ryan1,2, Jeremy D. Silver1, Richard Querel3, Dan Smale3, Steve Rhodes4, Matt Tully4, Nicholas Jones5, and Robyn Schofield1,2,6 Robert G. Ryan et al.
  • 1School of Earth Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, Sydney, Australia
  • 3National Institute for Water & Atmosphere Research, Lauder, New Zealand
  • 4Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, Australia
  • 5School of Earth, Atmospheric & Life Sciences, University of Wollongong, Australia
  • 6ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, Sydney, Australia

Abstract. South-eastern Australia has been identified by modelling studies as a hotspot of biogenic volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, however long term observational VOC studies are lacking in this region. Here, two and a half years of MAX-DOAS formaldehyde (HCHO) measurements in Australasia are presented, from Broadmeadows in northern Melbourne, Australia and from Lauder, a rural site in the South Island of New Zealand. Across the measurement period from December 2016 to November 2019, the mean formaldehyde column measured by the MAX-DOAS at Lauder was 2.50 ± 0.61 × 1014 molec cm−2 and at Broadmeadows was 5.40 ± 1.59 × 1015 molec cm−2. In both locations the seasonal cycle showed a pronounced peak in Austral summer (DJF) consistent with temperature-dependent formaldehyde production from biogenic precursor gases. The amplitude of the seasonal cycle at Lauder was 0.7 × 1015 molec cm−2 while it was 2.0 × 1015 molec cm−2 at Broadmeadows. The Lauder MAX-DOAS HCHO measurements are compared with 27 months of co-located fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) observations. The seasonal variation of Lauder MAX-DOAS HCHO, smoothed by the FTIR averaging kernels, correlated strongly with the FTIR measurements, with linear regression slope of 0.91 and R2 of 0.81 for monthly averaged formaldehyde partial columns. In addition to ground-based observations, a clear way to address the VOC measurement gap in areas such as Australasia is with satellite measurements. Here we demonstrate that the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) can be used to distinguish formaldehyde hotspots in forested and agricultural regions of south-eastern Australia. The MAX-DOAS measurements are also compared to TROPOMI HCHO vertical columns at Lauder and Melbourne; very strong monthly average agreement is found for Melbourne (regression slope of 0.61, R2 of 0.95) and a strong agreement is found at Lauder (regression slope of 0.73, R2 of 0.61) for MAX-DOAS vs. TROPOMI between May 2018 and November 2019. This study, the first long term satellite comparison study using MAX-DOAS in the southern hemisphere, highlights the improvement offered by TROPOMI's high resolution over previous satellite products and provides the groundwork for future studies using ground based and satellite DOAS for studying VOCs in Australasia.

Robert G. Ryan et al.

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Robert G. Ryan et al.

Robert G. Ryan et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Models have identified Australasia as a formaldehyde (HCHO) hotspot from vegetation sources but few measurement studies exist to verify this. We compare, and find good agreement between, HCHO measurements using three different spectroscopic techniques – two ground-based and one satellite-based – in Australia and New Zealand. This gives confidence in using satellite observations to study HCHO and associated air chemistry and pollution problems in this understudied part of the world.
Models have identified Australasia as a formaldehyde (HCHO) hotspot from vegetation sources but...