Hotspot of glyoxal over the Pearl River delta seen from the OMI satellite instrument: implications for emissions of aromatic hydrocarbons
Abstract. The Pearl River delta (PRD) is a densely populated hub of industrial activity located in southern China. OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) satellite observations reveal a large hotspot of glyoxal (CHOCHO) over the PRD that is almost twice as large as any other in Asia. Formaldehyde (HCHO) and NO2 observed by OMI are also high in the PRD but no more than in other urban/industrial areas of China. The CHOCHO hotspot over the PRD can be explained by industrial paint and solvent emissions of aromatic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), with toluene being a dominant contributor. By contrast, HCHO in the PRD originates mostly from VOCs emitted by combustion (principally vehicles). By applying a plume transport model to wind-segregated OMI data, we show that the CHOCHO and HCHO enhancements over the PRD observed by OMI are consistent with current VOC emission inventories. Prior work using CHOCHO retrievals from the SCIAMACHY satellite instrument suggested that emission inventories for aromatic VOCs in the PRD were too low by a factor of 10–20; we attribute this result in part to bias in the SCIAMACHY data and in part to underestimated CHOCHO yields from oxidation of aromatics. Our work points to the importance of better understanding CHOCHO yields from the oxidation of aromatics in order to interpret space-based CHOCHO observations in polluted environments.