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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 9, issue 9
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 9, 4737-4757, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-9-4737-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 9, 4737-4757, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-9-4737-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 26 Sep 2016

Research article | 26 Sep 2016

Assessment of recent advances in measurement techniques for atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane observations

Christoph Zellweger1, Lukas Emmenegger1, Mohd Firdaus2, Juha Hatakka3, Martin Heimann4,9, Elena Kozlova5, T. Gerard Spain6, Martin Steinbacher1, Marcel V. van der Schoot7, and Brigitte Buchmann8 Christoph Zellweger et al.
  • 1Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Laboratory for Air Pollution/Environmental Technology, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
  • 2Atmospheric Science and Cloud Seeding Division, Malaysian Meteorological Department, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 3Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 4Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
  • 5College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  • 6National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  • 7Oceans and Atmosphere, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Aspendale, Victoria, Australia
  • 8Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Department Mobility, Energy and Environment, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
  • 9Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. Until recently, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) measurements were made almost exclusively using nondispersive infrared (NDIR) absorption and gas chromatography with flame ionisation detection (GC/FID) techniques, respectively. Recently, commercially available instruments based on spectroscopic techniques such as cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS), off-axis integrated cavity output spectroscopy (OA-ICOS) and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy have become more widely available and affordable. This resulted in a widespread use of these techniques at many measurement stations. This paper is focused on the comparison between a CRDS "travelling instrument" that has been used during performance audits within the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) programme of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) with instruments incorporating other, more traditional techniques for measuring CO2 and CH4 (NDIR and GC/FID). We demonstrate that CRDS instruments and likely other spectroscopic techniques are suitable for WMO/GAW stations and allow a smooth continuation of historic CO2 and CH4 time series. Moreover, the analysis of the audit results indicates that the spectroscopic techniques have a number of advantages over the traditional methods which will lead to the improved accuracy of atmospheric CO2 and CH4 measurements.

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We compared instruments using more traditional techniques for measuring CO2 and CH4 at different stations of the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) programme with a travelling instrument using a spectroscopic technique. Our results show that the newer analytical techniques have clear advantages over the traditional methods which will lead to the improved accuracy of atmospheric CO2 and CH4 measurement. The work was carried out in the framework of the GAW quality assurance/quality control system.
We compared instruments using more traditional techniques for measuring CO2 and CH4 at different...
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