Validation of IASI Satellite Ammonia Observations at the Pixel Scale Using In Situ Vertical Profiles

Xuehui Guo, Rui Wang, Da Pan, Mark A. Zondlo, Lieven Clarisse, Martin Van Damme, Simon Whitburn, Pierre François Coheur, Cathy Clerbaux, Bruno Franco, Levi M. Golston, Lars Wendt, Kang Sun, Lei Tao, David Miller, Tomas Mikoviny, Markus Müller, Armin Wisthaler, Alexandra G. Tevlin, Jennifer G. MurphyJohn B. Nowak, Joseph R. Roscioli, Rainer Volkamer, Natalie Kille, J. Andrew Neuman, Scott J. Eilerman, James H. Crawford, Tara I. Yacovitch, John D. Barrick, Amy Jo Scarino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Satellite ammonia (NH3) observations provide unprecedented insights into NH3 emissions, spatiotemporal variabilities and trends, but validation with in situ measurements remains lacking. Here, total columns from the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) were intercompared to boundary layer NH3 profiles derived from aircraft- and surface-based measurements primarily in Colorado, USA, in the summer of 2014. IASI-NH3 version 3 near real-time data set compared well to in situ derived columns (windows ±15 km around centroid, ±1 h around overpass time) with a correlation of 0.58, a slope of 0.78 ± 0.14 and an intercept of 2.1 × 1015±1.5 × 1015 molecules cm−2. Agreement degrades at larger spatiotemporal windows, consistent with the short atmospheric lifetime of NH3. We also examined IASI version 3R data, which relies on temperature retrievals from the ERA Reanalysis, and a third product generated using aircraft-measured temperature profiles. The overall agreement improves slightly for both cases, and neither is biased within their combined measurement errors. Thus, spatiotemporal averaging of IASI over large windows can be used to reduce retrieval noise. Nonetheless, sampling artifacts of airborne NH3 instruments result in significant uncertainties of the in situ-derived columns. For example, large validation differences exist between ascent and descent profiles, and the assumptions of the free tropospheric NH3 profiles used above the aircraft ceiling significantly impact the validation. Because short-lived species like NH3 largely reside within the boundary layer with complex vertical structures, more comprehensive validation is needed across a wide range of environments. More accurate and widespread in situ NH3 data sets are therefore required for improved validations of satellite products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JD033475
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 16 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science


  • IASI
  • ammonia
  • remote sensing
  • satellite
  • validation
  • vertical profile


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