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Variability of O3 and NO2 profile shapes during DISCOVER-AQ: Implications for satellite observations and comparisons to model-simulated profiles

Flynn, Clare Marie, Pickering, Kenneth E., Crawford, James H., Weinheimer, Andrew J., Diskin, Glenn, Thornhill, K. Lee, Loughner, Christopher, Lee, Pius, Strode, Sarah A.
Atmospheric environment 2016 v.147 pp. 133-156
air quality, algorithms, atmospheric chemistry, cluster analysis, gases, meteorology, mixing, models, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, pollution, remote sensing, satellites, temperature, California, Colorado, Maryland, Texas
To investigate the variability of in situ profile shapes under a variety of meteorological and pollution conditions, results are presented of an agglomerative hierarchical cluster analysis of the in situ O3 and NO2 profiles for each of the four campaigns of the NASA DISCOVER-AQ mission. Understanding the observed profile variability for these trace gases is useful for understanding the accuracy of the assumed profile shapes used in satellite retrieval algorithms as well as for understanding the correlation between satellite column observations and surface concentrations. The four campaigns of the DISCOVER-AQ mission took place in Maryland during July 2011, the San Joaquin Valley of California during January–February 2013, the Houston, Texas, metropolitan region during September 2013, and the Denver-Front Range region of Colorado during July–August 2014. Several distinct profile clusters emerged for the California, Texas, and Colorado campaigns for O3, indicating significant variability of O3 profile shapes, while the Maryland campaign presented only one distinct O3 cluster. In contrast, very few distinct profile clusters emerged for NO2 during any campaign for this particular clustering technique, indicating the NO2 profile behavior was relatively uniform throughout each campaign. However, changes in NO2 profile shape were evident as the boundary layer evolved through the day, but they were apparently not significant enough to yield more clusters. The degree of vertical mixing (as indicated by temperature lapse rate) associated with each cluster exerted an important influence on the shapes of the median cluster profiles for O3, as well as impacted the correlations between the associated column and surface data for each cluster for O3. The correlation analyses suggest satellites may have the best chance to relate to surface O3 under the conditions encountered during the Maryland campaign Clusters 1 and 2, which include deep, convective boundary layers and few interruptions to this connection from complex meteorology, chemical environments, or orography. The regional CMAQ model captured the shape factors for O3, and moderately well captured the NO2 shape factors, for the conditions associated with the Maryland campaign, suggesting that a regional air quality model may adequately specify a priori profile shapes for remote sensing retrievals. CMAQ shape factor profiles were not as well represented for the other regions.