Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
06 Nov 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) and is expected to appear here in due course.
The Contribution of Fires to TES Observations of Free Tropospheric PAN over North America in July
Emily V. Fischer1, Liye Zhu1, Vivienne H. Payne2, John R. Worden2, Zhe Jiang4, Susan S. Kulawik3, Steven Brey1, Arsineh Hecobian1, Daniel Gombos7, Karen Cady-Pereira5, and Frank Flocke6 1Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
2Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
3Bay Area Environmental Research Institute Moffett Field, Moffett Field, CA, USA
4National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
5Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), Lexington, MA, USA
6National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO, USA
7MORSE Corp, Cambridge, MA, USA
Abstract. Peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN) is a critical atmospheric reservoir for nitrogen oxide radicals, and it plays a lead role in their redistribution in the troposphere. We analyze new Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) PAN observations over North America during July 2006 to 2009. Using aircraft observations from the Colorado Front Range, we demonstrate that TES can be sensitive to elevated PAN in the boundary layer even in the presence of clouds. In situ observations have shown that wildfire emissions can rapidly produce PAN, and PAN decomposition is an important component of ozone production in smoke plumes. We identify smoke-impacted TES PAN retrievals by co-location with NOAA Hazard Mapping System (HMS) smoke plumes. We find that 15–32 % of cases where elevated PAN is identified in TES observations (retrievals with DOF > 0.6) overlap smoke plumes. A case study of smoke transport in July 2007 illustrates that PAN enhancements associated with HMS smoke plumes can be connected to fire complexes, providing evidence that TES is sufficiently sensitive to measure elevated PAN several days downwind of major fires. Using a subset of retrievals with TES 510 hPa carbon monoxide (CO) > 150 ppbv, and multiple estimates of background PAN, we calculate enhancement ratios for tropospheric average PAN relative to CO in smoke-impacted retrievals. Most of the TES-based enhancement ratios fall within the range calculated from in situ measurements.
Citation: Fischer, E. V., Zhu, L., Payne, V. H., Worden, J. R., Jiang, Z., Kulawik, S. S., Brey, S., Hecobian, A., Gombos, D., Cady-Pereira, K., and Flocke, F.: The Contribution of Fires to TES Observations of Free Tropospheric PAN over North America in July, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Emily V. Fischer et al.
Emily V. Fischer et al.


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Short summary
Peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN) is the most important pathway by which reactive nitrogen emissions reach the remote troposphere and impact oxidant distributions. PAN formation and decay is a key pathway by which oxidants will respond to changes in climate and emissions, such as those from wildfires. Satellite measurements of PAN provide a new way to examine this species. One motivation in developing and analyzing these measurements was the potential to examine the role of fires in PAN abundance.
Peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN) is the most important pathway by which reactive nitrogen emissions...