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

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https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2017-201
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
10 Jul 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT) and is expected to appear here in due course.
An aircraft gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer System for Organic Fast Identification Analysis (SOFIA): design, performance and a case study of Asian monsoon pollution outflow
Efstratios Bourtsoukidis, Frank Helleis, Laura Tomsche, Horst Fischer, Rolf Hofmann, Jos Lelieveld, and Jonathan Williams Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, 55128, Germany
Abstract. Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are important for global air quality and oxidation processes in the troposphere. In addition to ground-based measurements, the chemical evolution of such species during transport can be studied by performing in-situ airborne measurements. Generally, aircraft instrumentation needs to be sensitive, robust and sample at higher frequency than ground based systems while their construction must comply with rigorous mechanical and electrical safety standards. Here, we present a new System for Organic Fast Identification Analysis (SOFIA), which is a custom built fast Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) system with a time resolution of 2–3 min. The relatively high time resolution is the result of a novel cryogenic pre-concentration unit which rapidly cools (~ 6 °C/s) the sample enrichment traps to −140 °C, and a new chromatographic oven designed for rapid cooling rates (~ 30 °C/s) and subsequent thermal stabilization. SOFIA was installed in the High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft (HALO) for the Oxidation Mechanism Observations (OMO) campaign in August 2015, aimed at investigating the Asian monsoon pollution outflow in the tropical upper troposphere. In addition to a comprehensive instrument characterization we present an example monsoon plume crossing flight as a case study to demonstrate the instrument capability. Hydro- and halocarbon data from SOFIA are compared with mixing ratios of carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4), used to define the pollution plume. By using excess (ExR) and normalized excess mixing ratios (NEMRs) the pollution could be attributed to two air masses of distinctly different origin, identified by back-trajectory analysis. This work endorses the use of SOFIA for aircraft operation and demonstrates the value of relatively high-frequency, multicomponent measurements in atmospheric chemistry research.

Citation: Bourtsoukidis, E., Helleis, F., Tomsche, L., Fischer, H., Hofmann, R., Lelieveld, J., and Williams, J.: An aircraft gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer System for Organic Fast Identification Analysis (SOFIA): design, performance and a case study of Asian monsoon pollution outflow, Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2017-201, in review, 2017.
Efstratios Bourtsoukidis et al.
Efstratios Bourtsoukidis et al.

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