Atmospheric Vertical Observations of CO2 in the Earth's Troposphere

Atmospheric Vertical Observations of CO2 in the Earth's Troposphere

The NASA Langley CO2 sampling system (AVOCET) has an extensive measurement heritage in tropospheric field campaigns, delivering high reliability over 3400 flight hours (452 science flights) and is recognized within the CO2 community as a benchmark for evaluating newly evolving remote CO2. This instrument was adapted by the investigators for airborne sampling and has been successfully deployed aboard NASA research aircraft beginning with the PEM-West A mission in 1992, and more recently during the 2016 KORUS-AQ, 2017 ACSENDS/ABoVE, and 2019 FIREX-AQ missions. The newest iteration of the technique as of 2017 has at its core a modified LI-COR model 7000 non-dispersive infrared spectrometer (NDIR). The basic instrument is small (13 x 25 x 37 cm) and composed of dual 11.9 cm^3 sample/reference cells, a feedback stabilized infrared source, 500 Hz chopper, thermoelectrically-cooled solid state PbSe detector, and a narrow band (150 nm) interference filter centered on the 4.26 μm CO2 absorption band. Using synchronous signal detection techniques, it operates by sensing the difference in light absorption between the continuously flowing sample and reference gases occupying each side of the dual absorption cell. Thus, by selecting a reference gas of approximately the same concentration as background air (~405 ppm), minute fluctuations in atmospheric concentration can be quantified with high precision. Calbrations are peformed frequently during flight using WMO-traceable standards from NOAA ESRL. Precisions of ≤ 0.1 ppm (±1σ) for 1 Hz sampling rates are typical for our present airborne CO2 system when operated at 600 torr sample pressure.

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