Use of machine learning and principal component analysis to retrieve nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) with hyperspectral imagers and reduce noise in spectral fitting

Author/Creator ORCID





Citation of Original Publication

Joiner, J., et al. "Use of machine learning and principal component analysis to retrieve nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with hyperspectral imagers and reduce noise in spectral fitting" Atmos. Meas. Tech. 16 (26 Jan 2023): 481–500., 2023.


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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Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) is an important trace-gas pollutant and climate agent whose presence also leads to spectral interference in ocean color retrievals. NO₂ column densities have been retrieved with satellite UV–Vis spectrometers such as the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) and the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) that typically have spectral resolutions of the order of 0.5 nm or better and spatial footprints as small as 3.6 km × 5.6 km. These NO₂ observations are used to estimate emissions, monitor pollution trends, and study effects on human health. Here, we investigate whether it is possible to retrieve NO₂ amounts with lower-spectral-resolution hyperspectral imagers such as the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI) that will fly on the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite set for launch in early 2024. OCI will have a spectral resolution of 5 nm and a spatial resolution of ∼ 1 km with global coverage in 1–2 d. At this spectral resolution, small-scale spectral structure from NO₂ absorption is still present. We use real spectra from the OMI to simulate OCI spectra that are in turn used to estimate NO₂ slant column densities (SCDs) with an artificial neural network (NN) trained on target OMI retrievals. While we obtain good results with no noise added to the OCI simulated spectra, we find that the expected instrumental noise substantially degrades the OCI NO₂ retrievals. Nevertheless, the NO₂ information from OCI may be of value for ocean color retrievals. OCI retrievals can also be temporally averaged over timescales of the order of months to reduce noise and provide higher-spatial-resolution maps that may be useful for downscaling lower-spatial-resolution data provided by instruments such as OMI and TROPOMI; this downscaling could potentially enable higher-resolution emissions estimates and be useful for other applications. In addition, we show that NNs that use coefficients of leading modes of a principal component analysis of radiance spectra as inputs appear to enable noise reduction in NO₂ retrievals. Once trained, NNs can also substantially speed up NO₂ spectral fitting algorithms as applied to OMI, TROPOMI, and similar instruments that are flying or will soon fly in geostationary orbit.