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Long-term analysis of carbon dioxide and methane column-averaged mole fractions retrieved from SCIAMACHY

Author(s): O. Schneising | M. Buchwitz | M. Reuter | J. Heymann | H. Bovensmann | J. P. Burrows

Journal: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions
ISSN 1680-7367

Volume: 10;
Issue: 11;
Start page: 27479;
Date: 2010;
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Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) are the two most important anthropogenic greenhouse gases contributing to global climate change. SCIAMACHY onboard ENVISAT (launch 2002) was the first and is now together with TANSO onboard GOSAT (launch 2009) the only satellite instrument currently in space whose measurements are sensitive to CO2 and CH4 concentration changes in the lowest atmospheric layers where the variability due to sources and sinks is largest. We present long-term SCIAMACHY retrievals (2003–2009) of column-averaged mole fractions of both gases (denoted XCO2 and XCH4) derived from absorption bands in the near-infrared/shortwave-infrared (NIR/SWIR) spectral region focusing on large-scale features. The results are obtained using an upgraded version (v2) of the retrieval algorithm WFM-DOAS including several improvements, while simultaneously maintaining its high processing speed. The retrieved mole fractions are compared to global model simulations (CarbonTracker XCO2 and TM5 XCH4) being optimised by assimilating highly accurate surface measurements from the NOAA/ESRL network and taking the SCIAMACHY averaging kernels into account. The comparisons address seasonal variations and long-term characteristics. The steady increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels can be clearly observed with SCIAMACHY globally. The retrieved annual mean XCO2 increase over both hemispheres agrees with CarbonTracker within the error bars but is on average somewhat smaller (1.8 ppm yr−1 compared to 1.9 ppm yr−1). The amplitude of the XCO2 seasonal cycle as retrieved by SCIAMACHY, which is 4.3 ppm for the Northern Hemisphere and 1.4 ppm for the Southern Hemisphere, is on average about 1 ppm larger than for CarbonTracker. An investigation of the boreal forest carbon uptake during the growing season via the analysis of longitudinal gradients shows good agreement between SCIAMACHY and CarbonTracker concerning the overall magnitude of the gradients and their annual variations. The retrieved XCH4 results show that after years of stability, atmospheric methane has started to rise again in recent years which is consistent with surface measurements. The largest increase is observed for the tropics and northern mid- and high-latitudes amounting to about 8 ppb yr−1 since 2007. Due care has been exercised to minimise the influence of detector degradation on the quantitative estimate of this anomaly.

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