Articles | Volume 8, issue 12
Research article
01 Dec 2015
Research article |  | 01 Dec 2015

Accurate mobile remote sensing of XCO2 and XCH4 latitudinal transects from aboard a research vessel

F. Klappenbach, M. Bertleff, J. Kostinek, F. Hase, T. Blumenstock, A. Agusti-Panareda, M. Razinger, and A. Butz

Abstract. A portable Fourier transform spectrometer (FTS), model EM27/SUN, was deployed onboard the research vessel Polarstern to measure the column-average dry air mole fractions of carbon dioxide (XCO2) and methane (XCH4) by means of direct sunlight absorption spectrometry. We report on technical developments as well as data calibration and reduction measures required to achieve the targeted accuracy of fractions of a percent in retrieved XCO2 and XCH4 while operating the instrument under field conditions onboard the moving platform during a 6-week cruise on the Atlantic from Cape Town (South Africa, 34° S, 18° E; 5 March 2014) to Bremerhaven (Germany, 54° N, 19° E; 14 April 2014). We demonstrate that our solar tracker typically achieved a tracking precision of better than 0.05° toward the center of the sun throughout the ship cruise which facilitates accurate XCO2 and XCH4 retrievals even under harsh ambient wind conditions. We define several quality filters that screen spectra, e.g., when the field of view was partially obstructed by ship structures or when the lines-of-sight crossed the ship exhaust plume. The measurements in clean oceanic air, can be used to characterize a spurious air-mass dependency. After the campaign, deployment of the spectrometer alongside the TCCON (Total Carbon Column Observing Network) instrument at Karlsruhe, Germany, allowed for determining a calibration factor that makes the entire campaign record traceable to World Meteorological Organization (WMO) standards. Comparisons to observations of the GOSAT satellite and concentration fields modeled by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) demonstrate that the observational setup is well suited to provide validation opportunities above the ocean and along interhemispheric transects.

Short summary
Measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane total vertical column abundance from onboard the research vessel "RV Polarstern" in March / April 2014. Along the journey on the Atlantic from Cape Town (South Africa) to Bremerhaven (Germany) we could reproduce the interhemispheric gradient of the target gases, and we compared the measurements with satellite and model data. Future campaigns could use the new mobility to characterize sources and sinks of carbon-dioxide and methane.