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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© 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 29 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 29 Oct 2019

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

Correcting high-frequency losses of reactive nitrogen flux measurements

Pascal Wintjen1, Christof Ammann2, Frederik Schrader1, and Christian Brümmer1 Pascal Wintjen et al.
  • 1Thünen Institute of Climate-Smart Agriculture, Bundesallee 65, 38116, Braunschweig, Germany
  • 2Climate and Agriculture Group, Agroscope, Reckenholzstrasse 191, 8046, Zürich, Switzerland

Abstract. The eddy-covariance (EC) technique is nowadays widely used in experimental field studies to measure land surface-atmosphere exchange of a variety of trace gases. In recent years applying the EC technique to reactive nitrogen compounds has become more important since atmospheric nitrogen deposition influences the productivity and biodiversity of (semi-)natural ecosystems and its carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange. Fluxes which are calculated by EC have to be corrected for setup-specific effects like attenuation in the high-frequency range. However, common methods for correcting such flux losses are mainly optimized for inert greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane or water vapor. In this study, we applied a selection of correction methods to measurements of total reactive nitrogen (ΣNr) conducted in different ecosystems using the Total Reactive Atmospheric Nitrogen Converter (TRANC) coupled to a chemiluminescence dectector (CLD). Average flux losses calculated by methods using measured cospectra and ogives were about 26–38 % for a semi-natural peatland and about 16–22 % for a mixed forest. The investigation of the different methods showed that damping factors calculated with measured heat and gas flux cospectra using an empirical spectral transfer function were most reliable. Flux losses of ΣNr with this method were on the upper end of the median damping range, i.e. 38 % for the peatland site and 22 % for the forest site. Using modified Kaimal cospectra for damping estimation worked well for the forest site, but underestimates damping for the peatland site by about 12 %. Correction factors of methods based on power spectra or on site-specific and instrumental parameters were mostly less than 10 %. Power spectra of ΣNr were heavily affected likely by white noise and deviated substantially at lower frequencies from the temperature (power) spectrum. Our study suggests using an empirical method for estimating flux losses of ΣNr or any reactive nitrogen compound and locally measured cospectra.

Pascal Wintjen et al.
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Pascal Wintjen et al.
Pascal Wintjen et al.
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Short summary
With recent technological advances it is now possible to measure the exchange of a variety of trace gases between the land surface and the atmosphere. When using the so called eddy-covariance method, certain corrections need to be applied to account for attenuation in the flux signal. These losses were found to be setup and site-specific and can be up to 38 % for reactive nitrogen fluxes. We evaluated five different methods and recommend using an empirical version with locally measured cospectra.
With recent technological advances it is now possible to measure the exchange of a variety of...