Articles | Volume 10, issue 5
Research article
16 May 2017
Research article |  | 16 May 2017

Comparison of optical-feedback cavity-enhanced absorption spectroscopy and gas chromatography for ground-based and airborne measurements of atmospheric CO concentration

Irène Ventrillard, Irène Xueref-Remy, Martina Schmidt, Camille Yver Kwok, Xavier Faïn, and Daniele Romanini

Abstract. We present the first comparison of carbon monoxide (CO) measurements performed with a portable laser spectrometer that exploits the optical-feedback cavity-enhanced absorption spectroscopy (OF-CEAS) technique, against a high-performance automated gas chromatograph (GC) with a mercuric oxide reduction gas detector (RGD). First, measurements of atmospheric CO mole fraction were continuously collected in a Paris (France) suburb over 1 week. Both instruments showed an excellent agreement within typically 2 ppb (part per billion in volume), fulfilling the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recommendation for CO inter-laboratory comparison. The compact size and robustness of the OF-CEAS instrument allowed its operation aboard a small aircraft employed for routine tropospheric air analysis over the French Orléans forest area. Direct OF-CEAS real-time CO measurements in tropospheric air were then compared with later analysis of flask samples by the gas chromatograph. Again, a very good agreement was observed. This work establishes that the OF-CEAS laser spectrometer can run unattended at a very high level of sensitivity ( <  1 ppb) and stability without any periodic calibration.

Short summary
We present a comparison of CO measurements performed with a portable OF-CEAS laser spectrometer against a high-performance gas chromatograph. For both surface and airborne measurements, the instruments show an excellent agreement very close to the 2 ppb World Meteorological Organization recommendation for CO inter-laboratory comparison. This work establishes that this laser technique allows for the development of sensitive, compact, robust and reliable instruments for in situ trace-gas analysis.