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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 10, issue 12 | Copyright
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 10, 4833-4844, 2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 12 Dec 2017

Research article | 12 Dec 2017

A new non-resonant laser-induced fluorescence instrument for the airborne in situ measurement of formaldehyde

Jason M. St. Clair1,2, Andrew K. Swanson1,3, Steven A. Bailey1, Glenn M. Wolfe1,2, Josette E. Marrero4, Laura T. Iraci4, John G. Hagopian5,6, and Thomas F. Hanisco1 Jason M. St. Clair et al.
  • 1Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
  • 2Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD 21228, USA
  • 3Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research, Universities Space Research Association, Columbia, MD 21046, USA
  • 4Atmospheric Science Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
  • 5Lambda Consulting–Advanced Nanophotonics, Harwood, MD 20776, USA
  • 6Optics Branch, Instrument Systems and Technology Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA

Abstract. A new in situ instrument for gas-phase formaldehyde (HCHO), COmpact Formaldehyde FluorescencE Experiment (COFFEE), is presented. COFFEE utilizes non-resonant laser-induced fluorescence (NR-LIF) to measure HCHO, with 300mW of 40kHz 355nm laser output exciting multiple HCHO absorption features. The resulting HCHO fluorescence is collected at 5ns resolution, and the fluorescence time profile is fit to yield the ambient HCHO mixing ratio. Typical 1σ precision at  ∼ 0pptv HCHO is 150pptv for 1s data. The compact instrument was designed to operate with minimal in-flight operator interaction and infrequent maintenance (1–2 times per year). COFFEE fits in the wing pod of the Alpha Jet stationed at the NASA Ames Research Center and has successfully collected HCHO data on 27 flights through 2017 March. The frequent flights, combined with a potentially long-term data set, makes the Alpha Jet a promising platform for validation of satellite-based column HCHO.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Formaldehyde is an abundant, photochemically influential trace species in the Earth’s atmosphere. We present a new instrument for measuring atmospheric formaldehyde using a laser-based measurement technique that is more compact and lower cost than previous laser-based formaldehyde instruments. The instrument is part of the Alpha Jet Atmospheric eXperiment (AJAX) payload at the NASA Ames Research Center and has collected data on 27 flights between December 2015 and March 2017.
Formaldehyde is an abundant, photochemically influential trace species in the Earth’s...