Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 40, 4957–4962, doi:10.1002/grl.50952, 2013


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Severe smog episodes over China in January 2013 received worldwide attention. This air pollution was distinguished by heavy loadings of fine particulate matter and SO2. To characterize these episodes, we employed the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite, Nadir Mapper (OMPS NM), an ultraviolet (UV) spectrometer flying on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP) spacecraft since October 2011. We developed an advanced algorithm to quantify SO2 in the lower troposphere and achieved highquality retrievals from OMPS NM, which are characterized by high precision, ~0.2 Dobson Units (DU; 1 DU = 2.69x1016 molecules/cm2) for instantaneous field of view SO2 data and low biases (within ±0.2 DU). Here we report SO2 retrievals and UV aerosol index data for these pollution events. The SO2 columns and the areas covered by high pollutant concentrations are quantified; the results reveal for the first time the full extent (an area of ~106 km2 containing up to 60 kt of SO2) of these episodes.