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You are here: GES DISC Home Measures Multi-Decadal Sulfur Dioxide Climatology from Satellite Instruments

Multi-Decadal Sulfur Dioxide Climatology from Satellite Instruments

PI Name: Nick Krotkov

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) is a short-lived gas primarily produced by volcanoes, power plants, refineries, metal smelting and burning of fossil fuels. Where SO2 remains near the Earth s surface, it is toxic, causes acid rain, and degrades air quality. Where SO2 is lofted into the free troposphere, it forms aerosols that can alter cloud reflectivity and precipitation. In the stratosphere, volcanic SO2 forms sulfate aerosols that can result in climate change. 

The goal of this project is to create and archive a long-term consistent SO2 Earth Science Data Records (ESDR)  combining measurements from backscatter Ultraviolet (BUV) (OMI, TOMS), thermal infrared (IR) and microwave (MLS) instruments on multiple satellites. The approach employed by the research group is to apply unique in-flight calibration techniques and mature validated SO2 algorithm to obtain the best measurement based ESDR of volcanic and anthropogenic SO2 masses and emissions, including SO2 height information. The UV data will be complemented with IR and MLS data to extend coverage at night and high-latitude winter months. The ESDR will contain quality assessments that would enable users to judge the reliability and precision of the data. The ESDR will be available on our product oriented public web site:

Proposed combined SO2 record will produce the best estimates of the volcanic and anthropogenic contribution to global atmospheric SO2 concentrations. Such measurements are essential given the growing concern over the response of the Earth to anthropogenically-forced climate change, effectiveness of air quality regulations and intercontinental transport of air pollution. Since SO2 is the major precursor of sulfate aerosol, which has climate and air quality impact, SO2 measurements will contribute to better understanding of the sulfate aerosol distributions and its atmospheric impact.

Format: HDF-5

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Last updated: Feb 22, 2016 09:44 AM ET