Articles | Volume 2, issue 2
02 Nov 2009
 | 02 Nov 2009

Airborne multi-axis DOAS measurements of atmospheric trace gases on CARIBIC long-distance flights

B. Dix, C. A. M. Brenninkmeijer, U. Frieß, T. Wagner, and U. Platt

Abstract. A DOAS (Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy) instrument was implemented and operated onboard a long-distance passenger aircraft within the framework of the CARIBIC project (Civil Aircraft for the Regular Investigation of the atmosphere Based on an Instrument Container). The instrument was designed to keep weight, size and power consumption low and to comply with civil aviation regulations. It records spectra of scattered light from three viewing directions (nadir, 10° above and below horizon) using a miniaturized telescope system. The telescopes are integrated in the main pylon of the inlet system which is mounted at the belly of the aircraft. Fibre bundles transmit light from the telescopes to spectrograph-detector units inside the DOAS container instrument. The latter is part of the removable CARIBIC instrument container, which is installed monthly on the aircraft for a series of measurement flights.

During 30 flight operations within three years, measurements of HCHO, HONO, NO2, BrO, O3 and the oxygen dimer O4 were conducted. All of these trace gases except BrO could be analysed with a 30 s time resolution. HONO was detected for the first time in a deep convective cloud over central Asia, while BrO, NO2 and O3 could be observed in tropopause fold regions. Biomass burning signatures over South America could be seen and measurements during ascent and descent provided information on boundary layer trace gas profiles (e.g. NO2 or HCHO).