04 Aug 2021

04 Aug 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Biomass burning nitrogen dioxide emissions derived from space with TROPOMI: methodology and validation

Debora Griffin1, Chris A. McLinden1,2, Enrico Dammers3, Cristen Adams4, Chelsea Stockwell5,6, Carsten Warneke5, Ilann Bourgeois5,6, Jeff Peischl5,6, Thomas B. Ryerson5,a, Kyle J. Zarzana7, Jake P. Rowe6,7, Rainer Volkamer6,7,9, Christoph Knote8,b, Natalie Kille6,7,9,c, Theodore K. Koenig6,7,d, Christopher F. Lee7, Drew Rollins5, Pamela S. Rickly5,6, Jack Chen1, Lukas Fehr2, Adam Bourassa2, Doug Degenstein2, Katherine Hayden1, Cristian Mihele1, Sumi N. Wren1, John Liggio1, Ayodeji Akingunola1, and Paul Makar1 Debora Griffin et al.
  • 1Air Quality Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Department of Physics and Engineering Physics, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • 3Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Climate Air and Sustainability (CAS), Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 4Resource Stewardship Division, Government of Alberta, Alberta Environment and Parks, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 5NOAA Earth System Research Laboratories (ESRL), Chemical Sciences Laboratory, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 6Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 7Department of Chemistry, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 8Meteorological Institute, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany
  • 9Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA
  • anow at: Scientific Aviation, Boulder, CO, USA
  • bnow at: Model-based Environmental Exposure Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany
  • cnow at: Institute of Energy and Climate Research: Troposphere (IEK-8), Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, 52425 Jülich, Germany
  • dnow at: College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, 100871, China

Abstract. Smoke from wildfires is a significant source of air pollution, which can adversely impact air quality and ecosystems downwind. With the recently increasing intensity and severity of wildfires, the threat to air quality is expected to increase. Satellite-derived biomass burning emissions can fill in gaps in the absence of aircraft or ground-based measurement campaigns, and can help improve the on-line calculation of biomass burning emissions as well as the biomass burning emissions inventories that feed air quality models. This study focuses on satellite-derived NOx emissions using the high-spatial resolution TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) NO2 dataset. Advancements and improvements to the satellite based determination of forest fire NOx emissions are discussed, including information on plume height and effects of aerosol scattering on the satellite-retrieved vertical column densities. Two common top-down emission estimation methods, (1) an Exponentially Modified Gaussian (EMG) and (2) a flux method, are applied to synthetic data to determine the accuracy and the sensitivity to different parameters, including wind fields, satellite sampling, noise, lifetime and plume spread. These tests show that emissions can be accurately estimated from single TROPOMI overpasses. The effect of smoke aerosols on TROPOMI NO2 columns (via AMFs) is estimated and these satellite columns and emission estimates are compared to aircraft observations from four different aircraft campaigns measuring biomass burning plumes in 2018 and 2019 in North America. Our results indicate that applying an explicit aerosol correction to the TROPOMI NO2 columns improve the agreement with the aircraft observations (by about 10–25 %). The aircraft- and satellite-derived emissions are in good agreement within the uncertainties. Both top-down emissions methods work well, however, the EMG method seems to output more consistent results and has better agreement with the aircraft-derived emissions. Assuming a Gaussian plume shape for various biomass burning plumes, we estimate an average NOx e-folding time of 2 ± 1 h from TROPOMI observations. Based on chemistry transport model simulations and aircraft observations, the net emissions of NOx are 1.3 to 1.5 times greater than the satellite-derived NO2 emissions. A correction factor of 1.3 to 1.5 should thus be used to infer net NOx emissions from the satellite retrievals of NO2.

Debora Griffin et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2021-223', Anonymous Referee #1, 09 Sep 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on amt-2021-223', Anonymous Referee #2, 18 Sep 2021

Debora Griffin et al.

Debora Griffin et al.


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Short summary
Satellite-derived NOx emissions from biomass burning are derived with TROPOMI observations. Two common emission estimation methods are applied, and sensitivity tests with model output were performed to determine the accuracy of these methods. The effect of smoke aerosols on TROPOMI NO2 columns is estimated and compared to aircraft observations from four different aircraft campaigns measuring biomass burning plumes in 2018 and 2019 in North America.