Underestimation of column NO2 amounts from the OMI satellite compared to diurnally varying ground-based retrievals from multiple PANDORA spectrometer instruments

Jay Herman, Nader Abuhassan, Jhoon Kim, Jae Kim, Manvendra Dubey, Marcelo Raponi, Maria Tzortziou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


Retrievals of total column NO2 (TCNO2) are compared for 14 sites from the Ozone Measuring Instrument (OMI using OMNO2-NASA v3.1) on the AURA satellite and from multiple ground-based PANDORA spectrometer instruments making direct-sun measurements. While OMI accurately provides the daily global distribution of retrieved TCNO2, OMI almost always underestimates the local amount of TCNO2 by 50 % to 100 % in polluted areas, while occasionally the daily OMI value exceeds that measured by PANDORA at very clean sites. Compared to local ground-based or aircraft measurements, OMI cannot resolve spatially variable TCNO2 pollution within a city or urban areas, which makes it less suitable for air quality assessments related to human health. In addition to systematic underestimates in polluted areas, OMI's selected 13:30 Equator crossing time polar orbit causes it to miss the frequently much higher values of TCNO2 that occur before or after the OMI overpass time. Six discussed Northern Hemisphere PANDORA sites have multi-year data records (Busan, Seoul, Washington DC, Waterflow, New Mexico, Boulder, Colorado, and Mauna Loa), and one site in the Southern Hemisphere (Buenos Aires, Argentina). The first four of these sites and Buenos Aires frequently have high TCNO2 (TCNO2 > 0.5 DU). Eight additional sites have shorter-term data records in the US and South Korea. One of these is a 1-year data record from a highly polluted site at City College in New York City with pollution levels comparable to Seoul, South Korea. OMI-estimated air mass factor, surface reflectivity, and the OMI 24 km × 13 km FOV (field of view) are three factors that can cause OMI to underestimate TCNO2. Because of the local inhomogeneity of NOx emissions, the large OMI FOV is the most likely factor for consistent underestimates when comparing OMI TCNO2 to retrievals from the small PANDORA effective FOV (measured in m2) calculated from the solar diameter of 0.5°.

Original languageEnglish
Article number309
Pages (from-to)5593-5612
Number of pages20
JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct 23

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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