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Multi-sensor temporal assessment of tropospheric nitrogen dioxide column densities over Pakistan

A Correction to this article was published on 03 March 2018

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Spatial and temporal distributions of tropospheric NO2 vertical column densities over Pakistan during the period 2002–2014 are discussed. Data products from three satellite instruments SCIAMACHY, OMI, and GOME-2 are used to prepare a database of tropospheric NO2 column densities over Pakistan and temporal evolution is also determined. Plausible NO2 sources in Pakistan are also discussed. The results show a large NO2 growth over all provinces and the major cities of Pakistan except the megacity of Karachi. Decline in industrial activities due to energy crises, worsening law and order situation, terrorist attacks, and political instability was explored as the main factor for lower NO2 VCDs over Karachi City. The overall increase can be attributed to the anthropogenic emissions over the areas with high population, traffic density, and industrial activities. Source identification revealed that use of fossil fuels by various sectors including power generation, vehicles, and residential sectors along with agriculture fires are among significant sources of NO2 emissions in Pakistan. Existing emission inventories such as EDGARv4.2 and MACCity largely underestimate the true anthropogenic NOx emissions in Pakistan. This study may provide vital information to policy makers and regulatory authorities in developing countries, including Pakistan, in order to devise effective air pollution abatement policies.

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  • 03 March 2018

    The present address of Rabbia Murtaza is shown in this paper. (please tag the affiliation below, this is only for Rabbia Murtaza)


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The authors gratefully acknowledge the TEMIS project for providing level-2 satellite data of NO2 measurements and details about the retrieval and error analyses. We also acknowledge Data of Firm active fire from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), Population density from LandScan, traffic count from the National Highway Authority (NHA), vehicular data source from National Transport Research Centre of Pakistan, and thermal power plants from Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. Our special gratitude goes to NUST for providing partial financial support from the postgraduate research and development (R and D) fund to conduct this study. Authors also acknowledge the ECCARD database for providing the NOx emissions for both EDGAR and MACCity project from their web portal ( gin.jsf).

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Correspondence to Muhammad Fahim Khokhar or Khalid Rehman Hakeem.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Murtaza, R., Khokhar, M.F., Noreen, A. et al. Multi-sensor temporal assessment of tropospheric nitrogen dioxide column densities over Pakistan. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 9647–9660 (2018).

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  • Tropospheric NO2
  • Omi
  • GOME-2
  • Anthropogenic emissions
  • Temporal evolution