Articles | Volume 5, issue 8
Research article
21 Aug 2012
Research article |  | 21 Aug 2012

Airborne intercomparison of HOx measurements using laser-induced fluorescence and chemical ionization mass spectrometry during ARCTAS

X. Ren, J. Mao, W. H. Brune, C. A. Cantrell, R. L. Mauldin III, R. S. Hornbrook, E. Kosciuch, J. R. Olson, J. H. Crawford, G. Chen, and H. B. Singh

Abstract. The hydroxyl (OH) and hydroperoxyl (HO2) radicals, collectively called HOx, play central roles in tropospheric chemistry. Accurate measurements of OH and HO2 are critical to examine our understanding of atmospheric chemistry. Intercomparisons of different techniques for detecting OH and HO2 are vital to evaluate their measurement capabilities. Three instruments that measured OH and/or HO2 radicals were deployed on the NASA DC-8 aircraft throughout Arctic Research of the Composition of the Troposphere from Aircraft and Satellites (ARCTAS) in the spring and summer of 2008. One instrument was the Penn State Airborne Tropospheric Hydrogen Oxides Sensor (ATHOS) for OH and HO2 measurements based on Laser-Induced Fluorescence (LIF) spectroscopy. A second instrument was the NCAR Selected-Ion Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer (SI-CIMS) for OH measurement. A third instrument was the NCAR Peroxy Radical Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer (PeRCIMS) for HO2 measurement. Formal intercomparison of LIF and CIMS was conducted for the first time on a same aircraft platform. The three instruments were calibrated by quantitative photolysis of water vapor by ultraviolet (UV) light at 184.9 nm with three different calibration systems. The absolute accuracies were ±32% (2σ) for the LIF instrument, ±65% (2σ) for the SI-CIMS instrument, and ±50% (2σ) for the PeRCIMS instrument. In general, good agreement was obtained between the CIMS and LIF measurements of both OH and HO2 measurements. Linear regression of the entire data set yields [OH]CIMS = 0.89 × [OH]LIF + 2.8 × 104 cm−3 with a correlation coefficient r2 = 0.72 for OH, and [HO2]CIMS = 0.86 × [HO2]LIF + 3.9 parts per trillion by volume (pptv, equivalent to pmol mol−1) with a correlation coefficient r2 = 0.72 for HO2. In general, the difference between CIMS and LIF instruments for OH and HO2 measurements can be explained by their combined measurement uncertainties. Comparison with box model results shows some similarities for both the CIMS and LIF measurements. First, the observed-to-modeled HO2 ratio increases greatly for higher NO mixing ratios, indicating that the model may not properly account for HOx sources that correlate with NO. Second, the observed-to-modeled OH ratio increases with increasing isoprene mixing ratios, suggesting either incomplete understanding of isoprene chemistry in the model or interferences in the measurements in environments where biogenic emissions dominate ambient volatile organic compounds.