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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 14 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 14 Oct 2019

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

Airborne measurement of peroxy radicals using chemical amplification coupled with cavity ring down spectroscopy: the PeRCEAS instrument

Midhun George1, Maria Dolores Andrés Hernández1, Vladyslav Nenakhova, Yangzhuoran Liu1, and John Philip Burrows1 Midhun George et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen, Germany
  • anow at: Flight Experiments, DLR Oberpfaffenhoffen, Germany

Abstract. Hydroperoxyl, HO2, and organic peroxy, RO2, radicals are reactive short lived species, which play a key role in tropospheric chemistry. Measurements of the sum of HO2 and RO2, known as RO2*, provide unique information about the chemical processing in an air mass. This paper describes the experimental features and capabilities of Peroxy Radical Chemical Enhancement and Absorption Spectrometer (PeRCEAS). This is an instrument designed for use on aircraft from the boundary layer to the lower stratosphere. PeRCEAS combines the amplified conversion of peroxy radicals to nitrogen dioxide, NO2, with the sensitive detection of NO2 using absorption spectroscopy (CRD) at 408 nm. PeRCEAS is a dual channel instrument, with two identical reactor-detector lines working out of phase with one another at a constant and defined pressure lower than ambient. The suitability of PeRCEAS for the airborne measurement in the free troposphere was evaluated by extensive characterisation and calibration under atmospherically representative conditions in the laboratory. The use of the alternating modes of the two instrumental channels captures successfully short term variations in the composition of RO2* in ambient air. For 60s measurement, the RO2* detection limit for a minimum (2σ) NO2 detectable mixing ratio < 60 pptv, is < 2 pptv under controlled conditions in the range of atmospheric pressures and temperature gradients expected in the free troposphere. PeRCEAS has been successfully deployed in different airborne campaigns onboard the High Altitude LOng range research aircraft (HALO) for the study of the composition of the free troposphere within the missions OMO in 2015 and EMeRGe in 2017 and 2018.

Midhun George et al.
Interactive discussion
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Midhun George et al.
Midhun George et al.
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Short summary
The accurate measurement of peroxy radicals is essential for understanding the chemistry of air masses probed in the free troposphere. The PeRCEAS instrument has been designed, developed and thoroughly characterised for the measurement of the total sum of peroxy radicals (RO2*) on board of airborne platforms. Parameters expected to affect the precision and accuracy of the measurement have been investigated in detail.
The accurate measurement of peroxy radicals is essential for understanding the chemistry of air...