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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 06 Sep 2019

Submitted as: research article | 06 Sep 2019

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

Comparison of TROPOMI/Sentinel 5 Precursor NO2 observations with ground-based measurements in Helsinki

Iolanda Ialongo1, Henrik Virta1, Henk Eskes2, Jari Hovila1, and John Douros2 Iolanda Ialongo et al.
  • 1Space and Earth Observation Centre, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, De Bilt, Netherlands

Abstract. We present a comparison between satellite-based TROPOMI (TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument) NO2 products and ground-based observations in Helsinki (Finland). TROPOMI NO2 total (summed) columns are compared with the measurements performed by the Pandora spectrometer during April–September 2018. We find a high correlation (r = 0.68) between satellite- and ground-based data, but also that TROPOMI total columns underestimate ground-based observations for relatively large Pandora NO2 total columns, corresponding to episodes of relatively elevated pollution. This is expected because of the relatively large size of the TROPOMI ground pixel (3.5 km x 7 km) and the a-priori used in the retrieval compared to the relatively small field-of-view of the Pandora instrument. Replacing the coarse a-priori NO2 profiles with high-resolution profiles from the CAMS chemical transport model improves the agreement between TROPOMI and Pandora total columns for episodes of NO2 enhancement.

We also analyse the consistency between satellite-based data and in situ NO2 surface concentrations measured at the Helsinki-Kumpula air quality station (located a few metres from the Pandora spectrometer). We find similar day-to-day variability between TROPOMI, Pandora and in situ measurements, with NO2 enhancements observed during the same days. Both satellite- and ground-based data show a similar weekly cycle, with lower NO2 levels during the weekend compared to the weekdays as a result of reduced emissions from traffic and industrial activities (as expected in urban sites). The TROPOMI NO2 maps reveal also spatial features, such as the main traffic ways and the airport area, as well as the effect of the prevailing south-west wind patterns.

This is one of the first works in which TROPOMI NO2 retrievals are validated against ground-based observations and the results provide an early evaluation of their applicability for monitoring pollution levels in urban sites. Overall, TROPOMI retrievals are valuable to complement the ground-based air quality data (available with high temporal resolution) for describing the spatio-temporal variability of NO2, even in a relatively small city like Helsinki.

Iolanda Ialongo et al.
Interactive discussion
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Iolanda Ialongo et al.
Iolanda Ialongo et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The satellite-based nitrogen dioxide (NO2) data from TROPOMI/Sentinel 5P show consistency with ground-based reference data measured in the urban site of Helsinki, Finland. NO2 is a polluting gas produced by fossil fuel combustion and detectable from space. The data agree within 10 % and show similar day-to-day and weekly variability. The results confirm that satellite-based observations can bring additional information to traditional in situ measurements for urban air quality monitoring.
The satellite-based nitrogen dioxide (NO2) data from TROPOMI/Sentinel 5P show consistency with...