28 Oct 2022
28 Oct 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Advances in retrieving methane and carbon monoxide from TROPOMI onboard Sentinel-5 Precursor

Oliver Schneising, Michael Buchwitz, Jonas Hachmeister, Steffen Vanselow, Maximilian Reuter, Matthias Buschmann, Heinrich Bovensmann, and John P. Burrows Oliver Schneising et al.
  • Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP), University of Bremen FB1, Bremen, Germany

Abstract. The TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) onboard the Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite enables the accurate determination of atmospheric methane (CH4) and carbon monoxide (CO) abundances at high spatial resolution and global daily sampling. Due to its wide swath and sampling, the global distribution of both gases can be determined in unprecedented detail. The scientific retrieval algorithm Weighting Function Modified Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (WFMD) has proven valuable in simultaneously retrieving the atmospheric column-averaged dry air mole fractions XCH4 and XCO from TROPOMI's radiance measurements in the shortwave infrared (SWIR) spectral range.

Here we present recent improvements of the algorithm which have been incorporated into the current version v1.8 of the TROPOMI/WFMD product. This includes processing adjustments such as increasing the polynomial degree to 3 in the fitting procedure to better account for possible spectral albedo variations within the fitting window and updating the digital elevation model to minimise topography related biases. In the post-processing, the machine-learning-based quality filter has been refined using additional data when training the random forest classifier to further reduce scenes with residual cloudiness that are incorrectly classified as good. Furthermore, the machine learning calibration, addressing systematic errors due to simplifications in the forward model or instrumental issues, has been optimised. To remove vertical stripes in the XCH4 and XCO data, an efficient orbitwise destriping filter based on combined wavelet-Fourier filtering has been implemented, while optimally preserving the original spatial trace gas features. The temporal coverage of the data records has been extended to the end of April 2022 covering a total length of 4.5 years since the start of the mission and will be further extended in the future.

The improvements, which have been implemented, reduce the pseudo-noise component of the products resulting in an improved random error. The XCH4 and XCO products have similar spatial coverage from year to year including high latitudes and the oceans. The analysis of annual growth rates reveals an accelerated growth of atmospheric methane during the covered period, in line with observations at marine surface sites of the Global Monitoring Division of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory, which reported consecutive annual record increases over the past two years 2020 and 2021.

Oliver Schneising et al.

Status: open (until 02 Dec 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2022-258', Anonymous Referee #2, 07 Nov 2022 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on amt-2022-258', Anonymous Referee #1, 14 Nov 2022 reply

Oliver Schneising et al.

Oliver Schneising et al.


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Short summary
Methane and carbon monoxide are important constituents of the atmosphere in the context of climate change and air pollution. We present the latest advances in the TROPOMI/WFMD algorithm to simultaneously retrieve atmospheric methane and carbon monoxide abundances from space. The changes in the latest product version are described in detail and the resulting improvements are demonstrated. An overview of the products is provided including a discussion of annual increases and validation results.