First estimates of global free-tropospheric NO2 abundances derived using a cloud-slicing technique applied to satellite observations from the Aura Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI)
Abstract. We derive free-tropospheric NO2 volume mixing ratios (VMRs) by applying a cloud-slicing technique to data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on the Aura satellite. In the cloud-slicing approach, the slope of the above-cloud NO2 column versus the cloud scene pressure is proportional to the NO2 VMR. In this work, we use a sample of nearby OMI pixel data from a single orbit for the linear fit. The OMI data include cloud scene pressures from the rotational-Raman algorithm and above-cloud NO2 vertical column density (VCD) (defined as the NO2 column from the cloud scene pressure to the top of the atmosphere) from a differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) algorithm. We compare OMI-derived NO2 VMRs with in situ aircraft profiles measured during the NASA Intercontinental Chemical Transport Experiment Phase B (INTEX-B) campaign in 2006. The agreement is generally within the estimated uncertainties when appropriate data screening is applied. We then derive a global seasonal climatology of free-tropospheric NO2 VMR in cloudy conditions. Enhanced NO2 in the free troposphere commonly appears near polluted urban locations where NO2 produced in the boundary layer may be transported vertically out of the boundary layer and then horizontally away from the source. Signatures of lightning NO2 are also shown throughout low and middle latitude regions in summer months. A profile analysis of our cloud-slicing data indicates signatures of lightning-generated NO2 in the upper troposphere. Comparison of the climatology with simulations from the global modeling initiative (GMI) for cloudy conditions (cloud optical depth > 10) shows similarities in the spatial patterns of continental pollution outflow. However, there are also some differences in the seasonal variation of free-tropospheric NO2 VMRs near highly populated regions and in areas affected by lightning-generated NOx.