Spatial and temporal variation in CO over Alberta using measurements from satellites, aircraft, and ground stations
Abstract. Alberta is Canada's largest oil producer, and its oil sands deposits comprise 30% of the world's oil reserves. The process of bitumen extraction and upgrading releases trace gases and aerosols to the atmosphere. In this study we present satellite-based analysis to explore, for the first time, various contributing factors that affect tropospheric carbon monoxide (CO) levels over Alberta. The multispectral product that uses both near-infrared (NIR) and the thermal-infrared (TIR) radiances for CO retrieval from the Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) is examined for the 12-year period from 2002 to 2013. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) thermal anomaly product from 2001 to 2013 is employed to investigate the seasonal and temporal variations in forest fires. Additionally, in situ CO measurements at industrial and urban sites are compared to satellite data. Furthermore, the available MOZAIC/IAGOS (Measurement of Ozone, Water Vapor, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxide by Airbus In-Service Aircraft/In service Aircraft for Global Observing System) aircraft CO profiles (April 2009–December 2011) are used to validate MOPITT CO data. The climatological time curtain plot and spatial maps for CO over northern Alberta indicate the signatures of transported CO for two distinct biomass burning seasons: summer and spring. Distinct seasonal patterns of CO at the urban sites (Edmonton and Calgary) point to the strong influence of traffic. Meteorological parameters play an important role in the CO spatial distribution at various pressure levels. Northern Alberta shows a stronger upward lifting motion which leads to larger CO total column values, while the poor dispersion in central and southern Alberta exacerbates the surface CO pollution. Interannual variations in satellite data depict a slightly decreasing trend for both regions, while the decline trend is more evident from ground observations, especially at the urban sites. MOPITT CO vertical averages and MOZAIC/IAGOS aircraft profiles were in good agreement within the standard deviations at all pressure levels. There is consistency between the time evolution of high-CO episodes monitored by satellite and ground measurements and the fire frequency peak time, which implies that biomass burning has affected the tropospheric CO distribution in northern Alberta. These findings have further demonstrated the potential use of the MOPITT V5 multispectral (NIR + TIR) product for assessing a complicated surface process.