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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-684
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-684
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 29 Aug 2019

Submitted as: research article | 29 Aug 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Unexpected long-range transport of glyoxal and formaldehyde observed from the Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite during the 2018 Canadian wildfires

Leonardo M. A. Alvarado1, Andreas Richter1, Mihalis Vrekoussis1,2,4, Andreas Hilboll1, Anna B. Kalisz Hedegaard3,1, Oliver Schneising1, and John P. Burrows1 Leonardo M. A. Alvarado et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP), University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • 2Energy, Environment, and Water Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus
  • 3Institute of Atmospheric Physics, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Oberpfaffenhofen-Wessling, Germany
  • 4Center of Marine Environmental Sciences (MARUM), University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Abstract. Glyoxal (CHO.CHO) and formaldehyde (HCHO) are intermediate products in the oxidation of the majority of volatile organic compounds (VOC). CHO.CHO is also a precursor of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation in the atmosphere. These VOCs are released from biogenic, anthropogenic, and pyrogenic sources. CHO.CHO and HCHO tropospheric lifetimes are short during the daytime and at mid-latitudes (few hours), as they are rapidly removed from the atmosphere by their photolysis, oxidation by OH, and uptake on particles/deposition. During nighttime or at high latitudes, lifetime can be prolonged to many hours or even days. Previous studies demonstrated that CHO.CHO and HCHO can be retrieved from space-borne observations using the DOAS method. In this study, we present CHO.CHO and HCHO columns retrieved from measurements of the TROPOMI instrument, launched recently on the Sentinel-5 Precursor (S5P) platform in October 2017. Strongly elevated amounts of CHO.CHO and HCHO are observed during the fire season in British Columbia Canada, where a large number of fires occurred in August 2018. CHO.CHO and HCHO plumes from individual fire hot-spots are observed in air masses travelling over distances of up to 1500 km, i.e. much longer than expected for the short atmospheric lifetime of CHO.CHO and HCHO. However, the temporal evolution of the plume differs for both species. Comparison with Lagrangian-based FLEXPART simulations for particles with different lifetimes shows that effective lifetimes of 20 hours and more are needed to explain the observations, indicating that CHO.CHO and HCHO are either efficiently recycled during transport or, continuously formed from the oxidation of longer-lived precursors present in the plume.

Leonardo M. A. Alvarado et al.
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Short summary
We present CHO.CHO and HCHO columns retrieved from measurements of the TROPOMI instrument. Elevated amounts of CHO.CHO and HCHO are observed during the fire season in BC, Canada, where a large number of fires occurred in 2018. CHO.CHO and HCHO plumes from individual fires are observed in air masses travelling over distances of up to 1500 km. Comparison with FLEXPART simulations with different lifetimes shows that effective lifetimes of 20 hours and more are needed to explain the observations.
We present CHO.CHO and HCHO columns retrieved from measurements of the TROPOMI instrument....
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