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Date: 14 May 2014

Ozone profiles in the Baltimore-Washington region (2006–2011): satellite comparisons and DISCOVER-AQ observations

Abstract

Much progress has been made in creating satellite products for tracking the pollutants ozone and NO2 in the troposphere. Yet, in mid-latitude regions where meteorological interactions with pollutants are complex, accuracy can be difficult to achieve, largely due to persistent layering of some constituents. We characterize the layering of ozone soundings and related species measured from aircraft over two ground sites in suburban Washington, DC (Beltsville, MD, 39.05 N; 76.9 W) and Baltimore (Edgewood, MD, 39.4 N; 76.3 W) during the July 2011 DISCOVER-AQ (Deriving Information on Surface Conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality) experiment. First, we compare column-ozone amounts from the Beltsville and Edgewood sondes with data from overpassing satellites. Second, processes influencing ozone profile structure are analyzed using Laminar Identification and tracers: sonde water vapor, aircraft CO and NOy. Third, Beltsville ozone profiles and meteorological influences in July 2011 are compared to those from the summers of 2006–2010. Sonde-satellite offsets in total ozone during July 2011 at Edgewood and Beltsville, compared to the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), were 3 % mean absolute error, not statistically significant. The disagreement between an OMI/Microwave Limb Sounder-based tropospheric ozone column and the sonde averaged 10 % at both sites, with the sonde usually greater than the satellite. Laminar Identification (LID), that distinguishes ozone segments influenced by convective and advective transport, reveals that on days when both stations launched ozonesondes, vertical mixing was stronger at Edgewood. Approximately half the lower free troposphere sonde profiles have very dry laminae, with coincident aircraft spirals displaying low CO (80–110 ppbv), suggesting stratospheric influence. Ozone budgets at Beltsville in July 2011, determined with LID, as well as standard meteorological indicators, resemble those of 4 of the previous 5 summers. The penetration of stratospheric air throughout the troposphere appears to be typical for summer conditions in the Baltimore-Washington region.