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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 08 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 08 Nov 2019

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

The 2018 fire season in North America as seen by TROPOMI: aerosol layer height validation and evaluation of model-derived plume heights

Debora Griffin1, Christopher Sioris1, Jack Chen1, Nolan Dickson1,2, Andrew Kovachik1,2, Martin de Graaf3, Swadhin Nanda4, Pepijn Veefkind3,4, Enrico Dammers1, Chris A. McLinden1, Paul Makar1, and Ayodeji Akingunola1 Debora Griffin et al.
  • 1Air Quality Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • 3Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt, The Netherlands
  • 4Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Abstract. Before the launch of TROPOMI, only two other satellite instruments were able to observe aerosol plume heights globally, MISR and CALIOP. The TROPOMI aerosol layer height is a potential game changer, since it has daily global coverage and the aerosol layer height retrieval is available in near-real time. The aerosol layer height can be useful for aviation and air quality alerts, as well as for improving air quality forecasting related to wildfires. Here, TROPOMI's aerosol layer height product is evaluated with MISR and CALIOP observations for wildfire plumes in North America for the 2018 fire season (June to August). Further, observing system simulation experiments were performed to interpret the fundamental differences between the different products. The results show that MISR and TROPOMI are, in theory, very close for aerosol profiles with single plumes. For more complex profiles with multiple plumes, however, different plume heights are retrieved: the MISR plume height represents the top layer, and the plume height retrieved with TROPOMI tends to be an average altitude of several plume layers.

The comparison between TROPOMI and MISR plume heights shows, that on average, the TROPOMI aerosol layer heights are lower, by approximately 600 m, compared to MISR which is likely due to the different measurement techniques. From the comparison to CALIOP, our results show that the TROPOMI aerosol layer height is more accurate for thicker plumes and plumes below approximately 4.5 km.

MISR and TROPOMI are further used to evaluate the plume height of Environment and Climate Change Canada's operational forecasting system FireWork with fire plume injection height estimates from the Canadian Forest Fire Emissions Prediction System (CFFEPS). The modelled plume heights are similar compared to the satellite observations, but tend to be slightly higher with average differences of 270–580 m and 60–320 m compared to TROPOMI and MISR, respectively.

Debora Griffin 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
Debora Griffin et al.
Debora Griffin et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This study looks into validating the aerosol layer height product from the recently launched TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) for forest fire plume through comparisons with two other satellite products, and interpreting differences due to the individual measurement techniques. These satellite observations are compared to predicted plume heights from Environment and Climate Change's air quality forecast model.
This study looks into validating the aerosol layer height product from the recently launched...