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TROPOMI - global daily mapping of atmospheric constituents with unprecedented resolution

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With a spatial resolution of 3.5x7 km², a factor of (at least) 15 better than previous space-based instruments, TROPOMI is able to measure atmospheric trace gases with a remarkable level of detail, on a daily basis and on a global scale. TROPOMI provides added-value information on natural and anthropogenic emissions, and atmospheric processes in relation to air quality, ozone layer, climate change, and natural hazards such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions.
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With the support of Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO) and the European Space Agency (ESA), the UV-visible DOAS group of BIRA-IASB is playing a key role in the production, validation and analysis of TROPOMI data. In particular, the group is responsible (or co-responsible) for the development of the operational algorithms for retrieving abundances of three atmospheric constituents:

  • formaldehyde (indicating hydrocarbons biogenic emissions and pollution)
  • sulfur dioxide (from industrial processes and volcanoes)
  • total ozone (the stratospheric layer protecting Earth’s life from ultraviolet radiation)

Since the launch of TROPOMI in October 2017, the UV-visible DOAS group has worked on the algorithm development and optimization, and analyzed the first year of measurements.

In addition to the three atmospheric species cited above, we also obtained new results for glyoxal, which is produced indirectly by vegetation, fires and pollution. Figure 1 shows maps of formaldehyde, ozone, glyoxal and sulfur dioxide obtained from TROPOMI, illustrating the high level of details in the atmospheric species distribution provided by the instrument.

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Figure 1. Images from Sentinel-5 Precursor TROPOMI first year of measurements of atmospheric constituents of formaldehyde (HCHO) and glyoxal (CHOCHO) as tracer of hydrocarbon emissions, total ozone (O3) layer (showing the ozone hole) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emitted by the volcanic eruption in Hawaii. © BIRA-IASB/DLR/ESA/EU.
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