Articles | Volume 3, issue 6
Research article
08 Nov 2010
Research article |  | 08 Nov 2010

Field intercomparison of two optical analyzers for CH4 eddy covariance flux measurements

B. Tuzson, R. V. Hiller, K. Zeyer, W. Eugster, A. Neftel, C. Ammann, and L. Emmenegger

Abstract. Fast response optical analyzers based on laser absorption spectroscopy are the preferred tools to measure field-scale mixing ratios and fluxes of a range of trace gases. Several state-of-the-art instruments have become commercially available and are gaining in popularity. This paper aims for a critical field evaluation and intercomparison of two compact, cryogen-free and fast response instruments: a quantum cascade laser based absorption spectrometer from Aerodyne Research, Inc., and an off-axis integrated cavity output spectrometer from Los Gatos Research, Inc. In this paper, both analyzers are characterized with respect to precision, accuracy, response time and also their sensitivity to water vapour. The instruments were tested in a field campaign to assess their behaviour under various meteorological conditions. The instrument's suitability for eddy covariance flux measurements was evaluated by applying an artificial flux of CH4 generated above a managed grassland with otherwise very low methane exchange. This allowed an independent verification of the flux measurements accuracy, including the overall eddy covariance setup and data treatment. The retrieved fluxes were in good agreement with the known artificial emission flux, which is more than satisfactory, given that the analyzers were attached to separate sonic anemometers placed on individual eddy towers with different data acquisition systems but similar data treatment that are specific to the best practice used by the involved research teams.