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Volume 11, issue 3 | Copyright
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 1757-1776, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-11-1757-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 28 Mar 2018

Research article | 28 Mar 2018

The NASA Carbon Airborne Flux Experiment (CARAFE): instrumentation and methodology

Glenn M. Wolfe1,2, S. Randy Kawa1, Thomas F. Hanisco1, Reem A. Hannun1,2, Paul A. Newman1, Andrew Swanson1,3, Steve Bailey1, John Barrick4, K. Lee Thornhill4, Glenn Diskin4, Josh DiGangi4, John B. Nowak4, Carl Sorenson5, Geoffrey Bland6, James K. Yungel7, and Craig A. Swenson8 Glenn M. Wolfe et al.
  • 1Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Lab, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 2Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA
  • 3Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research, Universities Space Research Association, Columbia, MD, USA
  • 4NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, USA
  • 5NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, USA
  • 6Wallops Flight Facility, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Island, VA, USA
  • 7AECOM, ATM Project, Wallops Flight Facility, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Island, VA, USA
  • 8SSAI, ATM Project, Wallops Flight Facility, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Island, VA, USA

Abstract. The exchange of trace gases between the Earth's surface and atmosphere strongly influences atmospheric composition. Airborne eddy covariance can quantify surface fluxes at local to regional scales (1–1000km), potentially helping to bridge gaps between top-down and bottom-up flux estimates and offering novel insights into biophysical and biogeochemical processes. The NASA Carbon Airborne Flux Experiment (CARAFE) utilizes the NASA C-23 Sherpa aircraft with a suite of commercial and custom instrumentation to acquire fluxes of carbon dioxide, methane, sensible heat, and latent heat at high spatial resolution. Key components of the CARAFE payload are described, including the meteorological, greenhouse gas, water vapor, and surface imaging systems. Continuous wavelet transforms deliver spatially resolved fluxes along aircraft flight tracks. Flux analysis methodology is discussed in depth, with special emphasis on quantification of uncertainties. Typical uncertainties in derived surface fluxes are 40–90% for a nominal resolution of 2km or 16–35% when averaged over a full leg (typically 30–40km). CARAFE has successfully flown two missions in the eastern US in 2016 and 2017, quantifying fluxes over forest, cropland, wetlands, and water. Preliminary results from these campaigns are presented to highlight the performance of this system.

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We describe a new NASA airborne system for directly observing the surface–atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases and energy over regional scales. Such measurements are needed benchmark model and satellite products and can improve process-level understanding of greenhouse gas sources and sinks over forest, croplands, wetlands, urban areas, and other ecosystems.
We describe a new NASA airborne system for directly observing the surface–atmosphere exchange of...
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