1Harvard University, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
2Royal Netherlands Meteorological Inst., Climate Observations Dept., Wilhelminalaan 10, 3732 GK De Bilt, The Netherlands
3Weizmann Institute, Department of Environmental Sciences, Rehovot 76100, Israel
4Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Avenue Circulaire 3, 1180, Brussels, Belgium
Abstract. We compare a full-year (2006) record of surface air NO2 concentrations measured in Israeli cities to coinciding retrievals of tropospheric NO2 columns from satellite sensors (SCIAMACHY aboard ENVISAT and OMI aboard Aura). This provides a large statistical data set for validation of NO2 satellite measurements in urban air, where validation is difficult yet crucial for using these measurements to infer NOx emissions by inverse modeling. Assuming that NO2 is well-mixed throughout the boundary layer (BL), and using observed average seasonal boundary layer heights, near-surface NO2 concentrations are converted into BL NO2 columns. The agreement between OMI and (13:45) BL NO2 columns (slope=0.93, n=542), and the comparable results at 10:00 h for SCIAMACHY, allow a validation of the seasonal, weekly, and diurnal cycles in satellite-derived NO2. OMI and BL NO2 columns show consistent seasonal cycles (winter NO2 1.6–2.7× higher than summer). BL and coinciding OMI columns both show a strong weekly cycle with 45–50% smaller NO2 columns on Saturday relative to the weekday mean, reflecting the reduced weekend activity, and validating the weekly cycle observed from space. The diurnal difference between SCIAMACHY (10:00) and OMI (13:45) NO2 is maximum in summer when SCIAMACHY is up to 40% higher than OMI, and minimum in winter when OMI slightly exceeds SCIAMACHY. A similar seasonal variation in the diurnal difference is found in the source region of Cairo. The surface measurements in Israel cities confirm this seasonal variation in the diurnal cycle. Using simulations from a global 3-D chemical transport model (GEOS-Chem), we show that this seasonal cycle can be explained by a much stronger photochemical loss of NO2 in summer than in winter.