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The retrieval of oxygenated volatile organic compounds by remote sensing techniques

Folkard Wittrock(1), Andreas Richter(1), John P. Burrows(1) and Rainer Volkamer(2)

(1) University of Bremen, Otto-Hahn-Allee 1, D-28359 Bremen, Germany
(2) University of California, 5300 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, United States


The oxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is an important step in the tropospheric photochemistry and in the formation of photochemical smog. But due to the complex pathways of the oxidation processes, it is difficult to quantify. Here, the first global measurements of the trace gas glyoxal, an intermediate in VOC oxidation, derived from stray light spectra in the visible region measured by the satellite instrument SCIAMACHY along with ground-based MAX-DOAS instruments are described. The analysis was carried out using the method of the Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (DOAS). The work complementarily presents measurements of the trace gas formaldehyde. This work offers the opportunity to obtain a better estimate on the sources and sinks of VOCs in the atmosphere and therefore to identify photochemical hot spots. Case studies illustrate the significance of biogenic emissions and of biomass burning for the global distribution of the oxygenated volatile organic compounds.


Keywords: ESA European Space Agency - Agence spatiale europeenne, observation de la terre, earth observation, satellite remote sensing, teledetection, geophysique, altimetrie, radar, chimique atmospherique, geophysics, altimetry, radar, atmospheric chemistry