Measurement Report: Potential of MAX-DOAS and AERONET ground based measurements in Montevideo, Uruguay for the detection of distant biomass burning

Osorio, Matías; Agesta, Alejandro; Bösch, Tim; Casaballe, Nicolás; Richter, Andreas; Alvarado, Leonardo; Frins, Erna

Biomass burning releases large amounts of aerosols and chemical species into the atmosphere, which represents a major source of air pollutants. Emissions and by-products can be transported over long distances, presenting challenges in quantification. This is mainly done using satellites, which offer global coverage and data acquisition for places that are difficult to access. In this study, ground-based observations play an important role in assessing the abundance of trace gases and aerosols. On November 24, 2020, a significant increase in formaldehyde was observed, with a MAX-DOAS instrument located in Montevideo (Uruguay). Vertical column densities reached values of 2.4x10 16 molec. cm -2, more than twice the values observed during the previous days. This was accompanied by an increase in the aerosol levels measured by an AERONET photometer located at the same site. For example, the AOD at 440 nm reached values close to 1, one order of magnitude larger than typical values in Montevideo.

Our findings indicate that the cause of the increase was associated with the passage of a plume originating from distant biomass burning. This conclusion is supported using TROPOMI satellite observations as well as HYSPLIT trajectory simulations. The profiles of the gases and aerosols retrieved from the MAX-DOAS observations are consistent with the HYSPLIT analysis, showing the passage of a plume over Montevideo on November 24 located at a height of ∼1.5 km. This corroborates that biomass burning events that occur about 800 km north of Montevideo can affect the local atmosphere due to long-distance transport of emissions. This study underscores the potential of ground-based atmospheric monitoring as a tool for detection of such events. Furthermore, it demonstrates the greater sensitivity compared to satellite when it comes to detection of relatively small amounts of carbonyls like glyoxal and formaldehyde.

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Osorio, Matías / Agesta, Alejandro / Bösch, Tim / et al: Measurement Report: Potential of MAX-DOAS and AERONET ground based measurements in Montevideo, Uruguay for the detection of distant biomass burning. 2023. Copernicus Publications.

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