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Space-based observations of NO2: Trends in anthropogenic emissions

  • Author(s): Russell, Ashley Ray
  • Advisor(s): Cohen, Ronald C
  • et al.

Space–based instruments provide routine global observations, offering a unique perspective on the spatial and temporal variation of atmospheric constituents. In this dissertation, trends in regional–scale anthropogenic nitrogen oxide emissions (NO + NO2 ≡ NOx) are investigated using high resolution observations from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI). By comparing trends in OMI observations with those from ground–based measurements and an emissions inventory, I show that satellite observations are well–suited for capturing changes in emissions over time. The high spatial and temporal resolutions of the observations provide a uniquely complete view of regional–scale changes in the spatial patterns of NO2. I show that NOx concentrations have decreased significantly in urban regions of the United States between 2005 and 2011, with an average reduction of 32 ± 7%. By examining day–of–week and interannual trends, I show that these reductions can largely be attributed to improved emission control technology in the mobile source fleet; however, I also show that the economic downturn of the late 2000's has impacted emissions. Additionally, I describe the development of a high-resolution retrieval of NO2 from OMI observations known as the Berkeley High Resolution (BEHR) retrieval. The BEHR product uses higher spatial and temporal resolution terrain and profile parameters than the operational retrievals and is shown to provide a more quantitative measure of tropospheric NO2 column density. These results have important implications for future retrievals of NO2 from space–based observations.

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