05 Sep 2023
 | 05 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Evaluation of the first year of Pandora NO2 measurements over Beijing and application to satellite validation

Ouyang Liu, Zhengqiang Li, Yangyan Lin, Cheng Fan, Ying Zhang, Kaitao Li, Peng Zhang, Yuanyuan Wei, Tianzeng Chen, Jiantao Dong, and Gerrit de Leeuw

Abstract. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a highly photochemically reactive gas, has a lifetime of only a few hours, and at high concentrations it is harmful to human beings. Therefore, it is important to monitor NO2 with high-precision, time-resolved instruments. To this end, a Pandora spectrometer has been installed on the roof of the laboratory building of the Aerospace Information Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the Olympic Park, Beijing, China. The concentrations of trace gases (including NO2, HCHO, O3) measured with Pandora are made available through the open-access Pandora data base ( In this paper, an overview is presented of the Pandora NO2 data collected during the first year of operation, i.e., from August, 2021, to July, 2022. The data show that NO2 concentrations were high in the winter and low in the summer, with diurnal cycle where the concentrations reach a minimum during day time. The concentrations were significantly lower during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, showing the effectiveness of the emission control measures during that period. The Pandora observations show that during northerly winds clean air is transported to Beijing with low NO2 concentrations, whereas during southerly winds pollution from surrounding areas is transported to Beijing and NO2 concentrations are high. The contribution of tropospheric NO2 to the total NO2 VCD varies significantly on daily to seasonal time scales, i.e., close to 50 % in autumn and winter, and close to 70 % in spring and autumn. The comparison of Pandora-measured surface concentrations with collocated in situ measurements using a Thermo Scientific 42i-TL Analyzer shows that the Pandora data are low and that the relationship between Pandora-derived surface concentrations and in situ measurements are different for low and high NO2 concentrations. Explanations for these differences are offered in terms of measurement techniques and physical (transport) phenomena. The use of Pandora total and tropospheric NO2 vertical column densities (VCDs) for validation of collocated TROPOMI data, resampled to 100×100 m2, shows that although on average the TROPOMI VCDs are slightly lower, they are well within the expected error for TROPOMI of 0.5 Pmolec ⋅ cm−2 + 0.2 to 0.5 ⋅ VCDtrop The location of the Pandora instrument within a sub-orbital TROPOMI pixel of 3.5×5.5 km2 may result in an error in the TROPOMI-derived tropospheric NO2 VCD between 0.223 and 0.282, i.e., between 1.7 % and 2 %. In addition, the data also show that the Pandora observations at the Beijing-RADI site are representative for an area with a radius of 10 km.

Ouyang Liu et al.

Status: open (until 10 Oct 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2023-177', Anonymous Referee #1, 06 Sep 2023 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on amt-2023-177', Anonymous Referee #2, 25 Sep 2023 reply

Ouyang Liu et al.


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Short summary
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a trace gas which is important for atmospheric chemistry and may affect human health. To understand processes leading to harmful concentrations, it is important to monitor NO2 concentrations near the surface and higher up. To this end, a Pandora instrument has been installed in Beijing. An overview of the first year of data shows the large variability on diurnal to seasonal time scales and how this is affected by wind speed and direction and chemistry.