Articles | Volume 10, issue 21
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 10145–10160, 2010
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 10145–10160, 2010

Research article 01 Nov 2010

Research article | 01 Nov 2010

GOME-2 observations of oxygenated VOCs: what can we learn from the ratio glyoxal to formaldehyde on a global scale?

M. Vrekoussis1,3, F. Wittrock1, A. Richter1, and J. P. Burrows1,2 M. Vrekoussis et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Physics and Remote Sensing, IUP, University of Bremen, NW1, P.O. Box 33 04 40, 28334, Bremen, Germany
  • 2Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Maclean Building, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB, UK
  • 3Research Centre for Atmospheric Physics and Climatology, Academy of Athens, 24 Omirou str., Athens, 10672 Greece

Abstract. Collocated data sets of glyoxal (CHO.CHO) and formaldehyde (HCHO) were retrieved for the first time from measurements of the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment-2 (GOME-2) during the first two years of operation in 2007 and 2008. Both oxygenated Volatile Organic Compounds, OVOC, are key intermediate species produced during the oxidation of precursor hydrocarbons. Their short lifetime of a few hours in the lower troposphere links them to emission sources and makes them useful tracers of photochemical activity. The global composite maps of GOME-2 HCHO and CHO.CHO have strong similarities confirming their common atmospheric and/or surface sources. The highest column amounts of these OVOCs are recorded over regions with enhance biogenic emissions (e.g. tropical forests in South America, Africa and Indonesia). Enhanced OVOC values are also present over areas of anthropogenic activity and biomass burning (e.g. over China, N. America, Europe and Australia). The ratio of CHO.CHO to HCHO, RGF, has been used, for the first time on a global scale, to classify the sources according to biogenic and/or anthropogenic emissions of the precursors; RGF between 0.040 to 0.060 point to the existence of biogenic emissions with the highest values being observed at the highest Enhanced Vegetation Index, EVI. RGFs below 0.040 are indicative of anthropogenic emissions and associated with high levels of NO2. This decreasing tendency of RGF with increasing NO2 is also observed when analyzing data for individual large cities, indicating that it is a common feature. The results obtained for RGF from GOME-2 data are compared with the findings based on regional SCIAMACHY observations showing good agreement. This is explained by the excellent correlation of the global retrieved column amounts of CHO.CHO and HCHO from the GOME-2 and SCIAMACHY instruments for the period 2007–2008.

Final-revised paper