Disclaimer: This material is being kept online for historical purposes. Though accurate at the time of publication, it is no longer being updated. The page may contain broken links or outdated information, and parts may not function in current web browsers. Visit https://espo.nasa.gov for information about our current projects.


The NASA Carbon Airborne Flux Experiment (CARAFE): instrumentation and...

Wolfe, G. M., S. R. Kawa, T. F. Hanisco, R. A. Hannun, P. Newman, A. Swanson, S. Bailey, J. Barrick, L. Thornhill, G. S. Diskin, J. P. DiGangi, J. B. Nowak, C. Sorenson, G. Bland, J. K. Yungel, and C. Swenson (2018), The NASA Carbon Airborne Flux Experiment (CARAFE): instrumentation and methodology, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 1757-1776, doi:10.5194/amt-11-1757-2018.

The exchange of trace gases between the Earth’s surface and atmosphere strongly influences atmospheric composition. Airborne eddy covariance can quantify surface fluxes at local to regional scales (1–1000 km), potentially helping to bridge gaps between top-down and bottomup flux estimates and offering novel insights into biophysical and biogeochemical processes. The NASA Carbon Airborne Flux Experiment (CARAFE) utilizes the NASA C-23 Sherpa aircraft with a suite of commercial and custom instrumentation to acquire fluxes of carbon dioxide, methane, sensible heat, and latent heat at high spatial resolution. Key components of the CARAFE payload are described, including the meteorological, greenhouse gas, water vapor, and surface imaging systems. Continuous wavelet transforms deliver spatially resolved fluxes along aircraft flight tracks. Flux analysis methodology is discussed in depth, with special emphasis on quantification of uncertainties. Typical uncertainties in derived surface fluxes are 40–90 % for a nominal resolution of 2 km or 16–35 % when averaged over a full leg (typically 30–40 km). CARAFE has successfully flown two missions in the eastern US in 2016 and 2017, quantifying fluxes over forest, cropland, wetlands, and water. Preliminary results from these campaigns are presented to highlight the performance of this system.

PDF of Publication: 
Download from publisher's website.
Research Program: 
Atmospheric Composition
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems Program (CCEP)