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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-2018-396
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2018-396
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 17 Jan 2019

Research article | 17 Jan 2019

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

High-precision atmospheric oxygen measurement comparisons between a newly built CRDS analyzer and existing measurement techniques

Tesfaye A. Berhanu1,2, John Hoffnagle2, Chris Rella2, David Kimhak2, Peter Nyfeler1, and Markus Leuenberger1 Tesfaye A. Berhanu et al.
  • 1Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 2Picarro Inc., 3105 Patrick Henry Drive, Santa Clara, CA, USA

Abstract. Carbon dioxide and oxygen are tightly coupled in land–biospheres CO2–O2 exchange processes, while they are not coupled in oceanic exchange. For this reason, atmospheric oxygen measurements can be used to constrain the global carbon cycle, especially oceanic uptake. However, accurately quantifying the small (~ 1–100 ppm) variations in O2 is analytically challenging due to the very large atmospheric background which constitutes about 20.9 % (~ 209 500 ppm) of atmospheric air. Here we present comprehensive laboratory and field studies for a newly developed high-precision oxygen mixing ratio and isotopic composition analyzer (Picarro G-2207) that is based on cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS). From the laboratory tests, we have calculated a short-term precision (standard error of one-minute measurements) of < 1 ppm for this analyzer based on measurements of eight standard gases analyzed for two hours consecutively. In contrast to the currently existing techniques, the instrument has an excellent long-term stability and therefore a calibration every 12 hours is sufficient to get an overall uncertainty of < 5 ppm. Measurements of ambient air were also conducted at the High-Altitude Research Station, Jungfraujoch and the Beromünster tall tower in Switzerland. At both sites, we observed opposing and diurnally varying CO2 and O2 profiles due to different processes such as combustion, photosynthesis and respiration. Based on the combined measurements at Beromünster tower, we determined height dependent O2 : CO2 oxidation ratios varying between −0.98 to −1.60, which increase with the height of the tower inlet, possibly due to different source contribution such as natural gas combustion with high oxidation ratio and biological processes which are at the lower end.

Tesfaye A. Berhanu et al.
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Tesfaye A. Berhanu et al.
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Short summary
Accurate measurement of variations in atmospheric oxygen, which is a challenging task, can provide a useful information about atmospheric, biospheric and oceanic processes. In this manuscript, we introduce and compare laboratory and field test results between a newly built CRDS analyzer (picarro G-2207) and existing technologies.
Accurate measurement of variations in atmospheric oxygen, which is a challenging task, can...
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