Biomass burning nitrogen dioxide emissions derived from space with TROPOMI: methodology and validation Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract. Smoke from wildfires is a significant source of air pollution, which can adversely impact air quality and ecosystems downwind. With the recently increasing intensity and severity of wildfires, the threat to air quality is expected to increase. Satellite-derived biomass burning emissions can fill in gaps in the absence of aircraft or ground-based measurement campaigns, and can help improve the on-line calculation of biomass burning emissions as well as the biomass burning emissions inventories that feed air quality models. This study focuses on satellite-derived NOx emissions using the high-spatial resolution TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) NO2 dataset. Advancements and improvements to the satellite based determination of forest fire NOx emissions are discussed, including information on plume height and effects of aerosol scattering on the satellite-retrieved vertical column densities. Two common top-down emission estimation methods, (1) an Exponentially Modified Gaussian (EMG) and (2) a flux method, are applied to synthetic data to determine the accuracy and the sensitivity to different parameters, including wind fields, satellite sampling, noise, lifetime and plume spread. These tests show that emissions can be accurately estimated from single TROPOMI overpasses. The effect of smoke aerosols on TROPOMI NO2 columns (via AMFs) is estimated and these satellite columns and emission estimates are compared to aircraft observations from four different aircraft campaigns measuring biomass burning plumes in 2018 and 2019 in North America. Our results indicate that applying an explicit aerosol correction to the TROPOMI NO2 columns improve the agreement with the aircraft observations (by about 10–25 %). The aircraft- and satellite-derived emissions are in good agreement within the uncertainties. Both top-down emissions methods work well, however, the EMG method seems to output more consistent results and has better agreement with the aircraft-derived emissions. Assuming a Gaussian plume shape for various biomass burning plumes, we estimate an average NOx e-folding time of 2 ± 1 h from TROPOMI observations. Based on chemistry transport model simulations and aircraft observations, the net emissions of NOx are 1.3 to 1.5 times greater than the satellite-derived NO2 emissions. A correction factor of 1.3 to 1.5 should thus be used to infer net NOx emissions from the satellite retrievals of NO2.;

publication date

  • August 4, 2021

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • August 16, 2021 11:36 AM

Full Author List

  • Griffin D; McLinden CA; Dammers E; Adams C; Stockwell C; Warneke C; Bourgeois I; Peischl J; Ryerson TB; Zarzana KJ

author count

  • 28

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