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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2018-312
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2018-312
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 05 Oct 2018

Research article | 05 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Modification, Characterization and Evaluation of a Quantum/Interband Cascade Laser Spectrometer for simultaneous airborne in situ observation of CH4, C2H6, CO2, CO and N2O

Julian Kostinek1, Anke Roiger1, Kenneth J. Davis3, Colm Sweeney6, Joshua P. DiGangi5, Yonghoon Choi5,7, Bianca Baier6,8, Frank Hase4, Jochen Groß4, Maximilian Eckl1, Theresa Klausner1, and André Butz2 Julian Kostinek et al.
  • 1Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 2Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 3Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
  • 4Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 5NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23681-2199, USA
  • 6NOAA ESRL Global Monitoring Division, Boulder, CO 80305-3328, USA
  • 7Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, VA 23681, USA
  • 8Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80305, USA

Abstract. Achieving an improved understanding of the anthropogenic influence on climate due to man made greenhouse gas emissions is of major interest for the global civilization. Sources, sinks and transport of climatologically-relevant gases in the Earth's atmosphere are still insufficiently understood, implying a fundamental need for accurate, spatially and temporally dense observations. Tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy is a widely used technique for in situ sensing of atmospheric composition. Mid-infrared spectrometers have become commercially available, since continuous wave quantum cascade (QCL) and interband cascade lasers (ICL) today achieve excellent performance, stability and high output power at typical ambient conditions. Aircraft deployment poses a challenging environment for these newly-developed instruments. Here, we demonstrate the successful adaption of a commercially available QCL/ICL based spectrometer for airborne in-situ trace gas measurements. The instrument measures methane, ethane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and water vapor simultaneously, with high 1σ-precision (740ppt, 205ppt, 460ppb, 2.2ppb, 137ppt, 16ppm, respectively) and high frequency (2Hz). We estimate a total measurement uncertainty of 2.3ppb, 1.6ppb, 1.0ppm, 7.4ppb and 0.8ppb in CH4, C2H6, CO2, CO and N2O, respectively. The instrument enables truly simultaneous and continuous (zero dead-time) observations for all targeted species. Frequent calibration allows for a measurement duty cycle ≥90% while retaining high accuracy. A custom retrieval software has been implemented and instrument performance is reported for a first field deployment during NASA's Atmospheric Carbon and Transport America (ACT-America) campaign in fall 2017 over the eastern and central U.S.. This includes an inter-instrumental comparison with a calibrated cavity ring-down greenhouse gas analyzer (operated by NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, USA) and periodic flask samples analyzed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We demonstrate excellent agreement of the QCL/ICL based instrument to these concurrent observations within the combined measurement uncertainty.

Julian Kostinek et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Julian Kostinek et al.
Julian Kostinek et al.
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Short summary
We demonstrate the successful adaption of a laser based spectrometer for airborne in-situ trace gas measurements to enable achieving an improved understanding of the anthropogenic influence on climate due to man made greenhouse gas emissions. The modified instrument allows for precise and simultaneous airborne observation of five climatologically-relevant gases. We further report on instrument performance during a first field deployment over the eastern and central U.S..
We demonstrate the successful adaption of a laser based spectrometer for airborne in-situ trace...
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