Articles | Volume 7, issue 6
Research article
03 Jun 2014
Research article |  | 03 Jun 2014

Five years of CO, HCN, C2H6, C2H2, CH3OH, HCOOH and H2CO total columns measured in the Canadian high Arctic

C. Viatte, K. Strong, K. A. Walker, and J. R. Drummond

Abstract. We present a five-year time series of seven tropospheric species measured using a ground-based Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer at the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL; Eureka, Nunavut, Canada; 80°05' N, 86°42' W) from 2007 to 2011. Total columns and temporal variabilities of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and ethane (C2H6) as well as the first derived total columns at Eureka of acetylene (C2H2), methanol (CH3OH), formic acid (HCOOH) and formaldehyde (H2CO) are investigated, providing a new data set in the sparsely sampled high latitudes.

Total columns are obtained using the SFIT2 retrieval algorithm based on the optimal estimation method. The microwindows as well as the a priori profiles and variabilities are selected to optimize the information content of the retrievals, and error analyses are performed for all seven species. Our retrievals show good sensitivities in the troposphere. The seasonal amplitudes of the time series, ranging from 34 to 104%, are captured while using a single a priori profile for each species. The time series of the CO, C2H6 and C2H2 total columns at PEARL exhibit strong seasonal cycles with maxima in winter and minima in summer, in opposite phase to the HCN, CH3OH, HCOOH and H2CO time series. These cycles result from the relative contributions of the photochemistry, oxidation and transport as well as biogenic and biomass burning emissions.

Comparisons of the FTIR partial columns with coincident satellite measurements by the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment Fourier Transform Spectrometer (ACE-FTS) show good agreement. The correlation coefficients and the slopes range from 0.56 to 0.97 and 0.50 to 3.35, respectively, for the seven target species.

Our new data set is compared to previous measurements found in the literature to assess atmospheric budgets of these tropospheric species in the high Arctic. The CO and C2H6concentrations are consistent with negative trends observed over the Northern Hemisphere, attributed to fossil fuel emission decrease. The importance of poleward transport for the atmospheric budgets of HCN and C2H2 is highlighted. Columns and variabilities of CH3OH and HCOOH at PEARL are comparable to previous measurements performed at other remote sites. However, the small columns of H2CO in early May might reflect its large atmospheric variability and/or the effect of the updated spectroscopic parameters used in our retrievals. Overall, emissions from biomass burning contribute to the day-to-day variabilities of the seven tropospheric species observed at Eureka.