Articles | Volume 5, issue 3
Research article
23 Mar 2012
Research article |  | 23 Mar 2012

Improved instrumental line shape monitoring for the ground-based, high-resolution FTIR spectrometers of the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change

F. Hase

Abstract. We propose an improved monitoring scheme for the instrumental line shape (ILS) of high-resolution, ground-based FTIR (Fourier Transform InfraRed) spectrometers used for chemical monitoring of the atmosphere by the Network for Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC). Good ILS knowledge is required for the analysis of the recorded mid-infrared spectra. The new method applies a sequence of measurements using different gas cells instead of a single calibration cell. Three cells are used: cell C1 is a refillable cell offering 200 mm path length and equipped with a pressure gauge (filled with 100 Pa N2O), cells C2 and C3 are sealed cells offering 75 mm path length. C2 is filled with 5 Pa of pure N2O. Cell C3 is filled with 16 Pa N2O in 200 hPa technical air, so provides pressure-broadened N2O lines. We demonstrate that an ILS retrieval using C1 improves significantly the sensitivity of the ILS retrieval over the current calibration cells used in the network, because this cell provides narrow fully saturated N2O lines. The N2O columns derived from C2 and C3 allow the performance of a highly valuable closure experiment: adopting the ILS retrieved from C1, the N2O columns of C2 and C3 are derived. Because N2O is an inert gas, both columns should be constant on long timescales. Apparent changes in the columns would immediately attract attention and indicate either inconsistent ILS results or instrumental problems of other origin. Two different cells are applied for the closure experiment, because the NDACC spectrometers observe both stratospheric and tropospheric gases: C2 mimics signatures of stratospheric gases, whereas C3 mimics signatures of tropospheric gases.