Measurements of nitrogen dioxide total column amounts using a Brewer double spectrophotometer in direct Sun mode





Citation of Original Publication

Cede, A., J. Herman, A. Richter, N. Krotkov, and J. Burrows "Measurements of nitrogen dioxide total column amounts using a Brewer double spectrophotometer in direct Sun mode" J. Geophys. Res. 111, D05304 (02 March, 2006). doi:10.1029/2005JD006585.


This work was written as part of one of the author's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.
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NO₂ column amounts were measured for the past 2 years at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, using a Brewer spectrometer in direct Sun mode. A new‘ ‘bootstrap’’ method to calibrate the instrument is introduced and described. This technique selects the cleanest days from the database to obtain the solar reference spectrum. The main advantage for direct Sun measurements is that the conversion uncertainty from slant column to vertical column is negligible compared to the standard scattered light observations where it is typically on the order of 100% (2 σ) at polluted sites. The total 2 σ errors of the direct Sun retrieved column amounts decrease with solar zenith angle and are estimated at 0.2 to 0.6 Dobson units (DU, 1 DU ≈ 2.7 * 10¹⁶ molecules cm⁻²), which is more accurate than scattered light measurements for high NO₂ amounts. Measured NO₂ column amounts, ranging from 0 to 3 DU with a mean of 0.7 DU, show a pronounced daily course and a strong variability from day to day. The NO₂ concentration typically increases from sunrise to noon. In the afternoon it decreases in summer and stays constant in winter. As expected from the anthropogenic nature of its source, NO₂ amounts on weekends are significantly reduced. The measurements were compared to satellite retrievals from Scanning Image Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Cartography (SCIAMACHY). Satellite data give the same average NO₂ column and show a seasonal cycle that is similar to the ground data in the afternoon. We show that NO₂ must be considered when retrieving aerosol absorption properties, especially for situations with low aerosol optical depth