Comparison of tropospheric NO2 columns from MAX-DOAS retrievals and regional air quality model simulations

Blechschmidt, Anne-Marlene ; Arteta, Joaquim ; Coman, Adriana ; Curier, Lyana ; Eskes, Henk ; Foret, Gilles ; Gielen, Clio ; Hendrick, Francois ; Marécal, Virginie ; Meleux, Frédérik ; Parmentier, Jonathan ; Peters, Enno ; Pinardi, Gaia ; Piters, Ankie J. M. ; Plu, Matthieu ; Richter, Andreas ; Segers, Arjo ; Sofiev, Mikhail ; Valdebenito, Álvaro M. ; Van Roozendael, Michel ; Vira, Julius ; Vlemmix, Tim ; Burrows, John P.

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<p align=justify>Multi-axis differential optical absorption spectroscopy (MAX-DOAS) tropospheric <span class="inline-formula">NO<sub>2</sub></span> column retrievals from four European measurement stations are compared to simulations from five regional air quality models which contribute to the European regional ensemble forecasts and reanalyses of the operational Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS). Compared to other observational data usually applied for regional model evaluation, MAX-DOAS data are closer to the regional model data in terms of horizontal and vertical resolution, and multiple measurements are available during daylight, so that, for example, diurnal cycles of trace gases can be investigated. In general, there is good agreement between simulated and retrieved <span class="inline-formula">NO<sub>2</sub></span> column values for individual MAX-DOAS measurements with correlations between 35 % and 70 % for individual models and 45 % to 75 % for the ensemble median for tropospheric <span class="inline-formula">NO<sub>2</sub></span> vertical column densities (VCDs), indicating that emissions, transport and tropospheric chemistry of <span class="inline-formula">NO<sub><i>x</i></sub></span> are on average well simulated. However, large differences are found for individual pollution plumes observed by MAX-DOAS. Most of the models overestimate seasonal cycles for the majority of MAX-DOAS sites investigated. At the urban stations, weekly cycles are reproduced well, but the decrease towards the weekend is underestimated and diurnal cycles are overall not well represented. In particular, simulated morning rush hour peaks are not confirmed by MAX-DOAS retrievals, and models fail to reproduce observed changes in diurnal cycles for weekdays versus weekends. The results of this study show that future model development needs to concentrate on improving representation of diurnal cycles and associated temporal scalings.</p>
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