Five years of Sentinel-5p TROPOMI operational ozone profiling and geophysical validation using ozonesonde and lidar ground-based networks
Abstract. The Sentinel-5 Precursor (S5P) satellite operated by the European Space Agency (ESA) carries the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) on a Sun-synchronous low-Earth orbit since October 13, 2017. The S5P mission has acquired more than five years of TROPOMI nadir ozone profile data retrieved from the Level-0-to-1B processor version 2.0 and the Level-1B-to-2 Optimal Estimation based processor version 2.4.0. The latter is described in detail in this work, followed by the geophysical validation of the resulting ozone profiles for the period May 2018 to April 2023. Comparison of TROPOMI ozone profile data to co-located ozonesonde and lidar measurements used as references, concludes to a median agreement better than 5 to 10 % in the troposphere. The bias goes up to -15 % in the upper stratosphere (35–45 km) where it can exhibit vertical oscillations. The comparisons show a dispersion of about 30 % in the troposphere and 10 to 20 % in the upper troposphere to lower stratosphere (UTLS) and in the middle stratosphere, which is close to mission requirements. Chi-square tests of the observed differences confirm on average the validity of the ex-ante (prognostic) satellite and ground-based data uncertainty estimates in the middle stratosphere, above about 20 km. Around the tropopause and below, the mean chi-square value increases up to about four, meaning that the ex-ante TROPOMI uncertainty is underestimated. The information content of the ozone profile retrieval is characterised by about five to six vertical sub-columns of independent information and a vertical sensitivity nearly equal to unity at altitudes from about 20 to 50 km, decreasing rapidly at altitudes above and below. The barycentre of the retrieved information is usually close to the nominal retrieval altitude in the 20–50 km altitude range, with positive and negative offsets of up to 10 km below and above this range, respectively. The effective vertical resolution of the profile retrieval usually ranges within 10–15 km, with a minimum close to 7 km in the middle stratosphere. Increased sensitivity and higher effective vertical resolution are observed at higher solar zenith angle (SZA, above about 60°), as can be expected, and correlate with higher retrieved ozone concentrations. The vertical sensitivity of the TROPOMI tropospheric ozone amount is found to depend on solar zenith angle, which translates into a seasonal and meridian dependence of its bias with respect to reference measurements. A similar although smaller effect can be seen for the viewing zenith angle (VZA). Additionally, the bias is negatively correlated with the surface albedo for the 6–12 km ozone subcolumn, despite the latter’s apparently slightly positive correlation with the retrieval degrees of freedom in the signal. For the five years of TROPOMI ozone profile data that are available now, an overall positive drift is detected for the lowest three subcolumns (0–18 km), while a negative drift is observed for the two subcolumns above (18–32 km), resulting in a negligible vertically integrated drift.
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