Validation of MUSES NH3 observations from AIRS and CrIS against aircraft measurements from DISCOVER-AQ and a surface network in the Magic Valley

Karen E. Cady-Pereira, Xuehui Guo, Rui Wang, April B. Leytem, Chase Calkins, Elizabeth Berry, Kang Sun, Markus Müller, Armin Wisthaler, Vivienne H. Payne, Mark W. Shephard, Mark A. Zondlo, Valentin Kantchev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ammonia is a significant precursor of PM2.5 particles and thus contributes to poor air quality in many regions. Furthermore, ammonia concentrations are rising due to the increase of large-scale, intensive agricultural activities, which are often accompanied by greater use of fertilizers and concentrated animal feedlots. Ammonia is highly reactive and thus highly variable and difficult to measure. Satellite-based instruments, such as the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and the Cross-Track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), have been shown to provide much greater temporal and spatial coverage of ammonia distribution and variability than is possible with in situ networks or aircraft campaigns, but the validation of these data is limited. Here we evaluate MUSES (multi-spectra, multi-species, multi-sensors) ammonia retrievals from AIRS and CrIS against ammonia measurements from aircraft in the California Central Valley and in the Colorado Front Range. These are small datasets taken over high-source regions under very different conditions: winter in California and summer in Colorado. Direct comparisons of the surface values of the retrieved profiles are biased very low in California (°1/440ppbv) and slightly high in Colorado (°1/44ppbv). This bias appears to be primarily due to smoothing error, since applying the instrument operator effectively reduces the bias to zero; even after the smoothing error is accounted for, the average uncertainty at the surface is in the 20%-30% range. We also compare 3 years of CrIS ammonia against an in situ network in the Magic Valley in Idaho We show that CrIS ammonia captures both the seasonal signal and the spatial variability in the Magic Valley, although it is biased low here also. In summary, this analysis substantially adds to the validation record but also points to the need for more validation under many different conditions and at higher altitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-36
Number of pages22
JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2024
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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