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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Atmos. Meas. Tech., 3, 375-386, 2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
24 Mar 2010
High-accuracy continuous airborne measurements of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4) using the cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) technique
H. Chen1, J. Winderlich1, C. Gerbig1, A. Hoefer1, C. W. Rella2, E. R. Crosson2, A. D. Van Pelt2, J. Steinbach1, O. Kolle1, V. Beck1, B. C. Daube3, E. W. Gottlieb3, V. Y. Chow3, G. W. Santoni3, and S. C. Wofsy3 1Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, 07745 Jena, Germany
2Picarro, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA 94085, USA
3Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Abstract. High-accuracy continuous measurements of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4) during the BARCA (Balanço Atmosférico Regional de Carbono na Amazônia) phase B campaign in Brazil in May 2009 were accomplished using a newly available analyzer based on the cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) technique. This analyzer was flown without a drying system or any in-flight calibration gases. Water vapor corrections associated with dilution and pressure-broadening effects for CO2 and CH4 were derived from laboratory experiments employing measurements of water vapor by the CRDS analyzer. Before the campaign, the stability of the analyzer was assessed by laboratory tests under simulated flight conditions. During the campaign, a comparison of CO2 measurements between the CRDS analyzer and a nondispersive infrared (NDIR) analyzer on board the same aircraft showed a mean difference of 0.22±0.09 ppm for all flights over the Amazon rain forest. At the end of the campaign, CO2 concentrations of the synthetic calibration gases used by the NDIR analyzer were determined by the CRDS analyzer. After correcting for the isotope and the pressure-broadening effects that resulted from changes of the composition of synthetic vs. ambient air, and applying those concentrations as calibrated values of the calibration gases to reprocess the CO2 measurements made by the NDIR, the mean difference between the CRDS and the NDIR during BARCA was reduced to 0.05±0.09 ppm, with the mean standard deviation of 0.23±0.05 ppm. The results clearly show that the CRDS is sufficiently stable to be used in flight without drying the air or calibrating in flight and the water corrections are fully adequate for high-accuracy continuous airborne measurements of CO2 and CH4.

Citation: Chen, H., Winderlich, J., Gerbig, C., Hoefer, A., Rella, C. W., Crosson, E. R., Van Pelt, A. D., Steinbach, J., Kolle, O., Beck, V., Daube, B. C., Gottlieb, E. W., Chow, V. Y., Santoni, G. W., and Wofsy, S. C.: High-accuracy continuous airborne measurements of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4) using the cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) technique, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 3, 375-386,, 2010.
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