Validation of OMI, GOME-2A and GOME-2B tropospheric NO2, SO2 and HCHO products using MAX-DOAS observations from 2011 to 2014 in Wuxi, China: investigation of the effects of priori profiles and aerosols on the satellite products
Abstract. Tropospheric vertical column densities (VCDs) of NO2, SO2 and HCHO derived from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on AURA and the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment 2 aboard METOP-A (GOME-2A) and METOP-B (GOME-2B) are widely used to characterize the global distributions, trends and dominating sources of these trace gases. They are also useful for the comparison with chemical transport models (CTMs). We use tropospheric VCDs and vertical profiles of NO2, SO2 and HCHO derived from MAX-DOAS measurements from 2011 to 2014 in Wuxi, China, to validate the corresponding products (daily and bi-monthly-averaged data) derived from OMI and GOME-2A/B by different scientific teams. Prior to the comparison, the spatial and temporal coincidence criteria for MAX-DOAS and satellite data are determined by a sensitivity study using different spatial and temporal averaging conditions. Cloud effects on both MAX-DOAS and satellite observations are also investigated. Our results indicate that the discrepancies between satellite and MAX-DOAS results increase with increasing effective cloud fraction and are dominated by the effects of clouds on the satellite products. In comparison with MAX-DOAS, we found a systematic underestimation of all SO2 (40 to 57 %) and HCHO products (about 20 %), and an overestimation of the GOME-2A/B NO2 products (about 30 %), but good consistency with the DOMINO version 2 NO2 product. To better understand the reasons for these differences, we evaluated the a priori profile shapes used in the OMI retrievals (derived from CTM) by comparison with those derived from the MAX-DOAS observations. Significant differences are found for the SO2 and HCHO profile shapes derived from the IMAGES model, whereas on average good agreement is found for the NO2 profile shapes derived from the TM4 model. We also applied the MAX-DOAS profile shapes to the satellite retrievals and found that these modified satellite VCDs agree better with the MAX-DOAS VCDs than the VCDs from the original data sets by up to 10, 47 and 35 % for NO2, SO2 and HCHO, respectively. Furthermore, we investigated the effect of aerosols on the satellite retrievals. For OMI observations of NO2, a systematic underestimation is found for large AOD, which is mainly attributed to effect of the aerosols on the cloud retrieval and the subsequent application of a cloud correction scheme (implicit aerosol correction). In contrast, the effect of aerosols on the clear-sky air mass factor (explicit aerosol correction) has a smaller effect. For SO2 and HCHO observations selected in the same way, no clear aerosol effect is found, probably because for the considered data sets no cloud correction is applied (and also because of the larger scatter). From our findings we conclude that for satellite observations with cloud top pressure (CTP) > 900 hPa and effective cloud fraction (eCF) < 10 % the application of a clear-sky air mass factor might be a good option if accurate aerosol information is not available. Another finding of our study is that the ratio of morning-to-afternoon NO2 VCDs can be considerably overestimated if results from different sensors and/or retrievals (e.g. OMI and GOME-2) are used, whereas fewer deviations for HCHO and SO2 VCDs are found.