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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 21 Jan 2019

Submitted as: research article | 21 Jan 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

A study of synthetic 13CH4 retrievals from TROPOMI and Sentinel 5/UVNS Part 1: non scattering atmosphere

Edward Malina1, Haili Hu2, Jochen Landgraf2, and Ben Veihelmann1 Edward Malina et al.
  • 1Mission Science Division, ESA/ESTEC, Keplerlaan 1, Noordwijk, the Netherlands
  • 2SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. Retrievals of methane isotopologues have the potential to differentiate between natural and anthropogenic methane sources types, which can provide much needed information about the current global methane budget. We investigate the feasibility of retrieving the second most abundant isotopologue of atmospheric methane (13CH4, roughly 1.1 % of total atmospheric methane) from the Shortwave Infrared (SWIR) channels of the future Sentinel 5/UVNS and current Copernicus Sentinel 5 Precursor TROPOMI instruments. With the intended goal of calculating the δ13C ratio, we assume that a δ13C uncertainty of better than 10 ‰ is sufficient to differentiate between source types, which corresponds to a 13CH4 uncertainty of <0.2 ppb. Using the well established Information Content analysis techniques and assuming clear sky, non-scattering conditions, we find that the SWIR3 (2305–2385 nm) channel on the TROPOMI instrument can achieve a mean uncertainty of <1 ppb, while the SWIR1 channel (1590–1675 nm) on the Sentinel 5 UVNS instrument can achieve <0.68 ppb. These uncertainties combined with modest spatial and/or temporal averaging techniques can reduce δ13C uncertainty to the target magnitude or better. However, we find that 13CH4 retrievals are highly sensitive to errors in a priori knowledge of temperature and pressure, and accurate knowledge of these profiles are required before 13CH4 retrievals can be performed on TROPOMI and future Sentinel 5/UVNS data.

Edward Malina et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Edward Malina et al.
Edward Malina et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We present a feasibility study on retrieving 12CH4 and 13CH4, using the recently launched TROPOMI on the Copernicus Sentinel 5P satellite, and the future UVNS instrument on Sentinel 5. The ratio of 12CH4 and 13CH4 can be used to calculate the δ13C value. Which has been shown to be able to distinguish between biological and non-biological sources of methane. We show that Sentinel 5/UVNS may be used to distinguish between methane source types, while Sentinel 5P/TROPOMI is subject to large biases.
We present a feasibility study on retrieving 12CH4 and 13CH4, using the recently launched...