Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 3, 3451-3467, 2003
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Weekly cycle of NO2 by GOME measurements: A signature of anthropogenic sources
S. Beirle1, U. Platt1, M. Wenig2, and T. Wagner1
1Institut für Umweltphysik, Universität Heidelberg, Germany
2NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA

Abstract. Nitrogen oxides (NO+NO2=NOx) are important trace gases in the troposphere with impact on human health, atmospheric chemistry and climate. Besides natural sources (lightning, soil emissions) and biomass burning, fossil fuel combustion is estimated to be responsible for about 50\% of the total production of  NOx. Since human activity in industrialized countries largely follows an artificial seven-day cycle, fossil fuel combustion is expected to  be reduced during weekends. This "weekend effect" is well known from local, ground based measurements, but has never been analysed on a global scale before.

The Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME) on board the ESA-satellite ERS-2 allows measurements of  NO2 column densities. Applying sophisticated algorithms, vertical column densities (VCD) of tropospheric NO2 can be determined. We demonstrate the statistical analysis of weekly cycles of tropospheric NO2 VCDs for different regions of the world. In the cycles of the industrialized regions and cities in the US, Europe and Japan a clear Sunday minimum of tropospheric NO2 VCD can be seen. Sunday NO2 VCDs are about 25–50% lower than working day levels. Metropolitan areas with other religious and cultural backgrounds (Jerusalem, Mecca) show different weekly patterns corresponding to different days of rest. In China, no weekly pattern can be found.

The presence of a weekly cycle in the measured tropospheric NO2 VCD allows the identification of anthropogenic sources. In addition, the fraction of emissions subjected to a weekly cycle (mainly transport, power generation) with respect to a constant background (all kind of natural sources, biomass burning, heavy industry) can be estimated. Furthermore, we estimated the lifetime of tropospheric NO2 by analysing the mean weekly cycle over Germany in detail, obtaining a value of about 12 h.

Citation: Beirle, S., Platt, U., Wenig, M., and Wagner, T.: Weekly cycle of NO2 by GOME measurements: A signature of anthropogenic sources, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 3, 3451-3467, doi:10.5194/acpd-3-3451-2003, 2003.
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