Atmospheric Trace Gas (NO₂ and O₃) Variability in South Korean Coastal Waters, and Implications for Remote Sensing of Coastal Ocean Color Dynamics





Citation of Original Publication

Tzortziou, Maria, Owen Parker, Brian Lamb, Jay R. Herman, Lok Lamsal, Ryan Stauffer, and Nader Abuhassan. 2018. "Atmospheric Trace Gas (NO₂ and O₃) Variability in South Korean Coastal Waters, and Implications for Remote Sensing of Coastal Ocean Color Dynamics" Remote Sensing 10, no. 10: 1587.


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Coastal environments are highly dynamic, and are characterized by short-term, local-scale variability in atmospheric and oceanic processes. Yet, high-frequency measurements of atmospheric composition, and particularly nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) and ozone (O₃) dynamics, are scarce over the ocean, introducing uncertainties in satellite retrievals of coastal ocean biogeochemistry and ecology. Combining measurements from different platforms, the Korea-US Ocean Color and Air Quality field campaign provided a unique opportunity to capture, for the first time, the strong spatial dynamics and diurnal variability in total column (TC) NO₂ and O₃ over the coastal waters of South Korea. Measurements were conducted using a shipboard Pandora Spectrometer Instrument specifically designed to collect accurate, high-frequency observations from a research vessel, and were combined with ground-based observations at coastal land sites, synoptic satellite imagery, and air-mass trajectory simulations to assess source contributions to atmospheric pollution over the coastal ocean. TCO₃ showed only small (<20%) variability that was driven primarily by larger-scale meteorological processes captured successfully in the relatively coarse satellite imagery from Aura-OMI. In contrast, TCNO₂ over the ocean varied by more than an order of magnitude (0.07–0.92 DU), mostly affected by urban emissions and highly dynamic air mass transport pathways. Diurnal patterns varied widely across the ocean domain, with TCNO₂ in the coastal area of Geoje and offshore Seoul varying by more than 0.6 DU and 0.4 DU, respectively, over a period of less than 3 h. On a polar orbit, Aura-OMI is not capable of detecting these short-term changes in TCNO₂. If unaccounted for in atmospheric correction retrievals of ocean color, the observed variability in TCNO₂ would be misinterpreted as a change in ocean remote sensing reflectance, Rrs, by more than 80% and 40% at 412 and 443 nm, respectively, introducing a significant false variability in retrievals of coastal ocean ecological processes from space.