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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 5, issue 11
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 5, 2689–2701, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases, and related measurement...

Atmos. Meas. Tech., 5, 2689–2701, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 12 Nov 2012

Research article | 12 Nov 2012

Effect of air composition (N2, O2, Ar, and H2O) on CO2 and CH4 measurement by wavelength-scanned cavity ring-down spectroscopy: calibration and measurement strategy

H. Nara1, H. Tanimoto1, Y. Tohjima1, H. Mukai1, Y. Nojiri1, K. Katsumata1, and C. W. Rella2 H. Nara et al.
  • 1National Institute for Environmental Studies, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8506, Japan
  • 2Picarro Inc., 3105 Patrick Henry Drive, California, Santa Clara, 94054, USA

Abstract. We examined potential interferences from water vapor and atmospheric background gases (N2, O2, and Ar), and biases by isotopologues of target species, on accurate measurement of atmospheric CO2 and CH4 by means of wavelength-scanned cavity ring-down spectroscopy (WS-CRDS). Changes of the background gas mole fractions in the sample air substantially impacted the CO2 and CH4 measurements: variation of CO2 and CH4 due to relative increase of each background gas increased as Ar < O2 < N2, suggesting similar relation for the pressure-broadening effects (PBEs) among the background gas. The pressure-broadening coefficients due to variations in O2 and Ar for CO2 and CH4 are empirically determined from these experimental results. Calculated PBEs using the pressure-broadening coefficients are linearly correlated with the differences between the mole fractions of O2 and Ar and their ambient abundances. Although the PBEs calculation showed that impact of natural variation of O2 is negligible on the CO2 and CH4 measurements, significant bias was inferred for the measurement of synthetic standard gases. For gas standards balanced with purified air, the PBEs were estimated to be marginal (up to 0.05 ppm for CO2 and 0.01 ppb for CH4) although the PBEs were substantial (up to 0.87 ppm for CO2 and 1.4 ppb for CH4) for standards balanced with synthetic air. For isotopic biases on CO2 measurements, we compared experimental results and theoretical calculations, which showed excellent agreement within their uncertainty. We derived instrument-specific water correction functions empirically for three WS-CRDS instruments (Picarro EnviroSense 3000i, G-1301, and G-2301), and evaluated the transferability of the water correction function from G-1301 among these instruments. Although the transferability was not proven, no significant difference was found in the water vapor correction function for the investigated WS-CRDS instruments as well as the instruments reported in the past studies within the typical analytical precision at sufficiently low water concentrations (<0.7% for CO2 and <0.6% for CH4). For accurate measurements of CO2 and CH4 in ambient air, we concluded that WS-CRDS measurements should be performed under complete dehumidification of air samples, or moderate dehumidification followed by application of a water vapor correction function, along with calibration by natural air-based standard gases or purified air-balanced synthetic standard gases with the isotopic correction.

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