The 2018 fire season in North America as seen by TROPOMI: Aerosol layer height intercomparisons and evaluation of model-derived plume heights

Debora Griffin, Christopher Sioris, Jack Chen, Nolan Dickson, Andrew Kovachik, Martin De Graaf, Swadhin Nanda, Pepijn Veefkind, Enrico Dammers, More Authors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Before the launch of the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI), only two other satellite instruments were able to observe aerosol plume heights globally, the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP). The TROPOMI aerosol layer height is a potential game changer, since it has daily global coverage, and the aerosol layer height retrieval is available in near real time. The aerosol layer height can be useful for aviation and air quality alerts, as well as for improving air quality forecasting related to wildfires. Here, TROPOMI's aerosol layer height product is evaluated with MISR and CALIOP observations for wildfire plumes in North America for the 2018 fire season (June to August). Further, observing system simulation experiments were performed to interpret the fundamental differences between the different products. The results show that MISR and TROPOMI are, in theory, very close for aerosol profiles with single plumes. For more complex profiles with multiple plumes, however, different plume heights are retrieved; the MISR plume height represents the top layer, and the plume height retrieved with TROPOMI tends to have an average altitude of several plume layers. The comparison between TROPOMI and MISR plume heights shows that, on average, the TROPOMI aerosol layer heights are lower, by approximately 600 m, compared to MISR, which is likely due to the different measurement techniques. From the comparison to CALIOP, our results show that the TROPOMI aerosol layer height is more accurate over dark surfaces, for thicker plumes, and plumes between approximately 1 and 4.5 km. MISR and TROPOMI are further used to evaluate the plume height of Environment and Climate Change Canada's operational forecasting system FireWork with fire plume injection height estimates from the Canadian Forest Fire Emissions Prediction System (CFFEPS). The modelled plume heights are similar compared to the satellite observations but tend to be slightly higher with average differences of 270-580 and 60-320 m compared to TROPOMI and MISR, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1427-1445
Number of pages19
JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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