Methane and nitrous oxide from ground-based FTIR at Addis Ababa: Observations, error analysis, and comparison with satellite data

Temesgen Yirdaw Berhe, Gizaw Mengistu Tsidu, Thomas Blumenstock, Frank Hase, Gabriele P. Stiller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A ground-based, high-spectral-resolution Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer has been operational in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (9.01 N latitude, 38.76 E longitude; 2443m altitude above sea level), since May 2009 to obtain information on column abundances and profiles of various constituents in the atmosphere. Vertical profile and column abundances of methane and nitrous oxide are derived from solar absorption measurements taken by FTIR for a period that covers May 2009 to March 2013 using the retrieval code PROFFIT (V9.5). A detailed error analysis of CH4 and N2O retrieval are performed. Averaging kernels of the target gases shows that the major contribution to the retrieved information comes from the measurement. Thus, average degrees of freedom for signals are found to be 2.1 and 3.4, from the retrieval of CH4 and N2O for the total observed FTIR spectra. Methane and nitrous oxide volume mixing ratio (VMR) profiles and column amounts retrieved from FTIR spectra are compared with data from the reduced spectral resolution Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research/ Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia (IMK/IAA) MIPAS (Version V5R_CH4_224 and V5R_N2O_224), the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) (MLS v3.3 of N2O and CH4 derived from MLS v3.3 products of CO, N2O, and H2O), and the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) sensors on board satellites. The averaged mean relative difference between FTIR methane and the three correlative instruments MIPAS, MLS, and AIRS are 4.2 , 5.8 , and 5.3 in the altitude ranges of 20 to 27 km, respectively. However, the biases below 20 km are negative, which indicates the profile of CH4 from FTIR is less than the profiles derived from correlative instruments by 4:9, 1:8, and 2:8. The averaged positive bias between FTIR nitrous oxide and correlative instrument, MIPAS, in the altitude range of 20 to 27 km is 7.8 , and a negative bias of 4 at altitudes below 20 km. An averaged positive bias of 9.3 in the altitude range of 17 to 27 km is obtained for FTIR N2O with MLS. In all the comparisons of CH4 from FTIR with data from MIAS, MLS, and AIRS, sensors on board satellites indicate a negative bias below 20 km and a positive bias above 20 km. The mean error between partial-column amounts of methane from MIPAS and the ground-based FTIR is 5:5, with a standard deviation of 5 that shows very good agreement as exhibited by relative differences between vertical profiles. Thus, the retrieved CH4 and N2O VMR and column amounts from Addis Ababa, tropical site, is found to exhibit very good agreement with all coincident satellite observations. Therefore, the bias obtained from the comparison is comparable to the precision of FTIR measurement, which allows the use of data in further scientific studies as it represents a unique environment of tropical Africa, a region poorly investigated in the past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4079-4096
Number of pages18
JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 30 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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