Articles | Volume 2, issue 2
Special issue:
23 Sep 2009
 | 23 Sep 2009

A single gas chromatograph for accurate atmospheric mixing ratio measurements of CO2, CH4, N2O, SF6 and CO

S. van der Laan, R. E. M. Neubert, and H. A. J. Meijer

Abstract. We present an adapted gas chromatograph capable of measuring simultaneously and semi-continuously the atmospheric mixing ratios of the greenhouse gases CO2, CH4, N2O and SF6 and the trace gas CO with high precision and long-term stability. The novelty of our design is that all species are measured with only one device, making it a very cost-efficient system. No time lags are introduced between the measured mixing ratios. The system is designed to operate fully autonomously which makes it ideal for measurements at remote and unmanned stations. Only a small amount of sample air is needed, which makes this system also highly suitable for flask air measurements. In principle, only two reference cylinders are needed for daily operation and only one calibration per year against international WMO standards is sufficient to obtain high measurement precision and accuracy.

The system described in this paper is in use since May 2006 at our atmospheric measurement site Lutjewad near Groningen, The Netherlands at 6°21´ E, 53°24´N, 1 m a.s.l. Results show the long-term stability of the system. Observed measurement precisions at our remote research station Lutjewad were: ±0.04 ppm for CO2, ±0.8 ppb for CH4, ±0.8 ppb for CO, ±0.3 ppb for N2O, and ±0.1 ppt for SF6. The ambient mixing ratios of all measured species as observed at station Lutjewad for the period of May 2007 to August 2008 are presented as well.

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