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

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Atmos. Meas. Tech., 4, 2737-2748, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
14 Dec 2011
Atmospheric CO2 monitoring with single-cell NDIR-based analyzers
B. B. Stephens1, N. L. Miles2, S. J. Richardson2, A. S. Watt1, and K. J. Davis1 1National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
2The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA
Abstract. We describe CO2 concentration measurement systems based on relatively inexpensive single-cell non-dispersive infrared CO2 sensors. The systems utilize signal averaging to obtain precision (1-σ in 100 s) of 0.1 parts per million dry air mole fraction (ppm), frequent calibrations and sample drying in order to achieve state-of-the-art compatibility, and can run autonomously for months at a time. Laboratory tests indicate compatibility among four to six systems to be ±0.1 ppm (1-σ), and field measurements of known reference-gases yield median errors of 0.01 to 0.17 ppm with 1-σ variance of ±0.1 to 0.2 ppm. From May to August 2007, a system co-located with a NOAA-ESRL dual-cell NDIR system at the WLEF tall tower in Wisconsin measured daytime-only daily averages of CO2 that differ by 0.26 ± 0.15 ppm (median ± 1 σ), and from August 2005 to April 2011 a system co-located with weekly NOAA-ESRL network flask collection at Niwot Ridge, Colorado measured coincident CO2 concentrations that differed by −0.06 ± 0.30 ppm (n = 585). Data from these systems are now supporting a wide range of analyses and this approach may be applicable in future studies where accuracy and initial cost of the sensors are priorities.

Citation: Stephens, B. B., Miles, N. L., Richardson, S. J., Watt, A. S., and Davis, K. J.: Atmospheric CO2 monitoring with single-cell NDIR-based analyzers, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 4, 2737-2748,, 2011.
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