An intercomparison of total column-averaged nitrous oxide between ground-based FTIR TCCON and NDACC measurements at seven sites and comparisons with the GEOS-Chem model

Zhou, Minqiang; Langerock, Bavo; Wells, Kelley C.; Millet, Dylan B.; Vigouroux, Corinne; Sha, Mahesh Kumar; Hermans, Christian; Metzger, Jean-Marc; Kivi, Rigel; Heikkinen, Pauli; Smale, Dan; Pollard, David F.; Jones, Nicholas; Deutscher, Nicholas M.; Blumenstock, Thomas; Schneider, Matthias; Palm, Mathias; Notholt, Justus; Hannigan, James W.; De Mazière, Martine

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is an important greenhouse gas and it can also generate nitric oxide, which depletes ozone in the stratosphere. It is a common target species of ground-based Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) near-infrared (TCCON) and mid-infrared (NDACC) measurements. Both TCCON and NDACC networks provide a long-term global distribution of atmospheric N2O mole fraction. In this study, the dry-air column-averaged mole fractions of N2O (XN2O) from the TCCON and NDACC measurements are compared against each other at seven sites around the world (Ny-Ålesund, Sodankylä, Bremen, Izaña, Réunion, Wollongong, Lauder) in the time period of 2007–2017. The mean differences in XN2O between TCCON and NDACC (NDACC–TCCON) at these sites are between −3.32 and 1.37 ppb (−1.1 %–0.5 %) with standard deviations between 1.69 and 5.01 ppb (0.5 %–1.6 %), which are within the uncertainties of the two datasets. The NDACC N2O retrieval has good sensitivity throughout the troposphere and stratosphere, while the TCCON retrieval underestimates a deviation from the a priori in the troposphere and overestimates it in the stratosphere. As a result, the TCCON XN2O measurement is strongly affected by its a priori profile.

Trends and seasonal cycles of XN2O are derived from the TCCON and NDACC measurements and the nearby surface flask sample measurements and compared with the results from GEOS-Chem model a priori and a posteriori simulations. The trends and seasonal cycles from FTIR measurement at Ny-Ålesund and Sodankylä are strongly affected by the polar winter and the polar vortex. The a posteriori N2O fluxes in the model are optimized based on surface N2O measurements with a 4D-Var inversion method. The XN2O trends from the GEOS-Chem a posteriori simulation (0.97±0.02 (1σ) ppb yr−1) are close to those from the NDACC (0.93±0.04 ppb yr−1) and the surface flask sample measurements (0.93±0.02 ppb yr−1). The XN2O trend from the TCCON measurements is slightly lower (0.81±0.04 ppb yr−1) due to the underestimation of the trend in TCCON a priori simulation. The XN2O trends from the GEOS-Chem a priori simulation are about 1.25 ppb yr−1, and our study confirms that the N2O fluxes from the a priori inventories are overestimated. The seasonal cycles of XN2O from the FTIR measurements and the model simulations are close to each other in the Northern Hemisphere with a maximum in August–October and a minimum in February–April. However, in the Southern Hemisphere, the modeled XN2O values show a minimum in February–April while the FTIR XN2O retrievals show different patterns. By comparing the partial column-averaged N2O from the model and NDACC for three vertical ranges (surface–8, 8–17, 17–50 km), we find that the discrepancy in the XN2O seasonal cycle between the model simulations and the FTIR measurements in the Southern Hemisphere is mainly due to their stratospheric differences.



Zhou, Minqiang / Langerock, Bavo / Wells, Kelley C. / et al: An intercomparison of total column-averaged nitrous oxide between ground-based FTIR TCCON and NDACC measurements at seven sites and comparisons with the GEOS-Chem model. 2019. Copernicus Publications.


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