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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 3
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 1833–1849, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-11-1833-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 1833–1849, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-11-1833-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 29 Mar 2018

Research article | 29 Mar 2018

COCAP: a carbon dioxide analyser for small unmanned aircraft systems

Martin Kunz1, Jost V. Lavric1, Christoph Gerbig1, Pieter Tans2, Don Neff2, Christine Hummelgård3, Hans Martin3, Henrik Rödjegård3, Burkhard Wrenger4, and Martin Heimann1,5 Martin Kunz et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
  • 2NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Global Monitoring Division, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 3SenseAir AB, Delsbo, Sweden
  • 4Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences, Höxter, Germany
  • 5Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. Unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) could provide a cost-effective way to close gaps in the observation of the carbon cycle, provided that small yet accurate analysers are available. We have developed a COmpact Carbon dioxide analyser for Airborne Platforms (COCAP). The accuracy of COCAP's carbon dioxide (CO2) measurements is ensured by calibration in an environmental chamber, regular calibration in the field and by chemical drying of sampled air. In addition, the package contains a lightweight thermal stabilisation system that reduces the influence of ambient temperature changes on the CO2 sensor by 2 orders of magnitude. During validation of COCAP's CO2 measurements in simulated and real flights we found a measurement error of 1.2 µmol mol−1 or better with no indication of bias. COCAP is a self-contained package that has proven well suited for the operation on board small UASs. Besides carbon dioxide dry air mole fraction it also measures air temperature, humidity and pressure. We describe the measurement system and our calibration strategy in detail to support others in tapping the potential of UASs for atmospheric trace gas measurements.

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Unmanned aircraft could provide a cost-effective way to close gaps in the observation of the carbon cycle, provided that small yet accurate analysers are available. We have developed a COmpact Carbon dioxide analyser for Airborne Platforms (COCAP). During validation of its CO2 measurements in simulated and real flights we found a measurement error of 1.2 μmol mol−1 or better with no indication of bias. COCAP is a self-contained package that has proven well suited for operation on board UASs.
Unmanned aircraft could provide a cost-effective way to close gaps in the observation of the...
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