1Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, 3433 Computer & Space Sciences Bldg, College Park, MD 20742, USA
2CNRM-GAME, Météo-France and CNRS, UMR3589, Toulouse, France
3Laboratoire d'Aérologie, CNRS, UMR5560, Toulouse, France
4Laboratoire d'Aérologie, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, UMR5560, Toulouse, France
5NILU, Norwegian Institute of Air Research, Instituttveien 18, Kjeller 2027, Norway
Abstract. We study the carbon monoxide (CO) variability in the last decade measured by NASA's Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder (AIRS) on the Earth Observing System (EOS)/Aqua satellite. The focus of this study is to analyze CO variability and short-term trends separately for background CO and fresh CO emissions based on a new statistical approach. The AIRS Level 2 (L2) retrieval algorithm utilizes cloud clearing to treat cloud contaminations in the signals, and this increases the data coverage significantly to a yield of more than 50% of the total measurements. We first study if the cloud clearing affects CO retrievals and the subsequent trend studies by using the collocated Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) cloud mask to identify AIRS clear sky scenes. We then carry out a science analysis using AIRS CO data individually for the clear and cloud-cleared scenes to identify any potential effects due to cloud clearing. We also introduce a new technique to separate background and recently emitted CO observations, which aims to constrain emissions using only satellite CO data. We validate the CO variability of the recent emissions estimated from AIRS against other emission inventory databases (i.e., Global Fire Emissions Database – GFED3 and the MACC/CityZEN UE – MACCity) and calculate that the correlation coefficients between the AIRS CO recently emitted and the emission inventory databases are 0.726 for the Northern Hemisphere (NH) and 0.915 for the Southern Hemisphere (SH). The high degree of agreement between emissions identified using only AIRS CO and independent inventory sources demonstrates the validity of this approach to separate recent emissions from the background CO using one satellite data set.