Quantifying spatial and seasonal variability in atmospheric ammonia with in situ and space-based observations

Author: R. W. Pinder, J. T. Walker, J. O. Bash, Karen Cady-Pereira, D. K. Henze, M. Luo, G. B. Osterman and Mark W. Shephard
Date: 
February 18, 2011
Type: 
Journal Article
Venue: 
Geophysical Research Letters
Citation: 

Pinder, R. W., J. T. Walker, J. O. Bash, K. E. Cady-Pereira, D. K. Henze, M. Luo, G. B. Osterman, and M. W. Shephard (2011), Quantifying spatial and seasonal variability in atmospheric ammonia with in situ and space-based observations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L04802, doi:10.1029/2010GL046146.

Abstract:

Ammonia plays an important role in many biogeochemical processes, yet atmospheric mixing ratios are not well known. Recently, methods have been developed for retrieving NH3 from space-based observations, but they have not been compared to in situ measurements. We have conducted a field campaign combining co-located surface measurements and satellite special observations from the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES).

Our study includes 25 surface monitoring sites spanning 350 km across eastern North Carolina, a region with large seasonal and spatial variability in NH3. From the TES spectra, we retrieve a NH3 representative volume mixing ratio (RVMR), and we restrict our analysis to times when the region of the atmosphere observed by TES is representative of the surface measurement. We find that the TES NH3 RVMR qualitatively captures the seasonal and spatial variability found in eastern North Carolina. Both surface measurements and TES NH3 show a strong correspondence with the number of livestock facilities within 10 km of the observation. Furthermore, we find that TES NH3 RVMR captures the month-to-month variability present in the surface observations. The high correspondence with in situ measurements and vast spatial coverage make TES NH3 RVMR a valuable tool for understanding regional and global NH3 fluxes.

Additional:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highlighted this research on in EPA research on ammonia prompts satellites and surface measurements to converge which highlights "New technique transforms satellite data to tools that find and track ammonia around the globe".

AER scientists developed the retrieval algorithm and Karen E. Cady-Pereira contributed to the joint EPA/AER/JPL work on ammonia highlighted in the research Quantifying spatial and seasonal variability in atmospheric ammonia with in situ and space-based observations.