Trustworthy modelling of atmospheric formaldehyde powered by deep learning

Mriganka Sekhar Biswas, Manmeet Singh

Formaldehyde (HCHO) is one one of the most important trace gas in the atmosphere, as it is a pollutant causing respiratory and other diseases. It is also a precursor of tropospheric ozone which damages crops and deteriorates human health. Study of HCHO chemistry and long-term monitoring using satellite data is important from the perspective of human health, food security and air pollution. Dynamic atmospheric chemistry models struggle to simulate atmospheric formaldehyde and often overestimate by up to two times relative to satellite observations and reanalysis. Spatial distribution of modelled HCHO also fail to match satellite observations. Here, we present deep learning approach using a simple super-resolution based convolutional neural network towards simulating fast and reliable atmospheric HCHO. Our approach is an indirect method of HCHO estimation without the need to chemical equations. We find that deep learning outperforms dynamical model simulations which involves complicated atmospheric chemistry representation. Causality establishing the nonlinear relationships of different variables to target formaldehyde is established in our approach by using a variety of precursors from meteorology and chemical reanalysis to target OMI AURA satellite based HCHO predictions. We choose South Asia for testing our implementation as it doesnt have in situ measurements of formaldehyde and there is a need for improved quality data over the region. Moreover, there are spatial and temporal data gaps in the satellite product which can be removed by trustworthy modelling of atmospheric formaldehyde. This study is a novel attempt using computer vision for trustworthy modelling of formaldehyde from remote sensing can lead to cascading societal benefits.

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