In-orbit Earth reflectance validation of TROPOMI on board the Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite

L.G. Tilstra, M. de Graaf, P. Wang, P. Stammes

The goal of the study described in this paper is to determine the accuracy of the radiometric calibration of the TROPOMI instrument in flight, using its Earth radiance and solar irradiance measurements, from which the Earth reflectance is determined. The Earth reflectances are compared to radiative transfer calculations. We restrict ourselves to clear-sky observations as these are less difficult to model than observations containing clouds and/or aerosols. The limiting factor in the radiative transfer calculations is then the knowledge of the surface reflectance. We use OMI and SCIAMACHY surface Lambertian-equivalent reflectivity (LER) information to model the reflectivity of the Earth's surface. This Lambertian, nondirectional description of the surface reflection contribution results in a relatively large source of uncertainty in the calculations. These errors can be reduced significantly by filtering out geometries for which we know that surface LER is a poor approximation of the real surface reflectivity. This filtering is done by comparing the OMI/SCIAMACHY surface LER information to MODIS surface BRDF information.

We report calibration accuracies and errors for 21 selected wavelength bands between 328 and 2314 nm, located in TROPOMI spectral bands 3–7. All wavelength bands show good linear response to the intensity of the radiation and negligible offset problems. Reflectances in spectral bands 5 and 6 (wavelength bands 670 to 772 nm) have good absolute agreement with the simulations, showing calibration errors on the order of 0.01 or 0 %–3 %. Trends over the mission lifetime, due to instrument degradation, are studied and found to be negligible at these wavelengths. Reflectances in bands 3 and 4 (wavelength bands 328 to 494 nm), on the other hand, are found to be affected by serious calibration errors, on the order of 0.004–0.02 and ranging between 6 % and 10 %, depending on the wavelength. The TROPOMI requirements (of 2 % maximal deviation) are not met in this case. Trends due to instrument degradation are also found, being strongest for the 328 nm wavelength band and almost absent for the 494 nm wavelength band.

The validation results obtained for TROPOMI spectral band 7 show behaviour that we cannot fully explain. As a result, these results call for more research and different methods to study the calibration of the reflectance. It seems plausible, though, that the reflectance for this particular band is underestimated by about 6 %. A table is provided containing the final results for all 21 selected wavelength bands.

Bibliographic data

L.G. Tilstra, M. de Graaf, P. Wang, P. Stammes. In-orbit Earth reflectance validation of TROPOMI on board the Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite
Journal: Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, Volume: 13, Year: 2020, First page: 4479, Last page: 4497, doi: 10.5194/amt-13-4479-2020