Articles | Volume 8, issue 12
Research article
09 Dec 2015
Research article |  | 09 Dec 2015

A wide field-of-view imaging DOAS instrument for two-dimensional trace gas mapping from aircraft

A. Schönhardt, P. Altube, K. Gerilowski, S. Krautwurst, J. Hartmann, A. C. Meier, A. Richter, and J. P. Burrows

Abstract. The Airborne imaging differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) instrument for Measurements of Atmospheric Pollution (AirMAP) has been developed for the purpose of trace gas measurements and pollution mapping. The instrument has been characterized and successfully operated from aircraft. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) columns were retrieved from the AirMAP observations. A major benefit of the push-broom imaging instrument is the spatially continuous, gap-free measurement sequence independent of flight altitude, a valuable characteristic for mapping purposes. This is made possible by the use of a charge coupled device (CCD) frame-transfer detector. A broad field of view across track of around 48° is achieved with wide-angle entrance optics. This leads to a swath width of about the same size as the flight altitude. The use of fibre coupled light intake optics with sorted light fibres allows flexible instrument positioning within the aircraft and retains the very good imaging capabilities. The measurements yield ground spatial resolutions below 100 m depending on flight altitude. The number of viewing directions is chosen from a maximum of 35 individual viewing directions (lines of sight, LOS) represented by 35 individual fibres. The selection is adapted to each situation by averaging according to signal-to-noise or spatial resolution requirements. Observations at 30 m spatial resolution are obtained when flying at 1000 m altitude and making use of all 35 viewing directions. This makes the instrument a suitable tool for mapping trace gas point sources and small-scale variability. The position and aircraft attitude are taken into account for accurate spatial mapping using the Attitude and Heading Reference System of the aircraft. A first demonstration mission using AirMAP was undertaken in June 2011. AirMAP was operated on the AWI Polar-5 aircraft in the framework of the AIRMETH-2011 campaign. During a flight above a medium-sized coal-fired power plant in north-west Germany, AirMAP clearly detected the emission plume downwind from the exhaust stack, with NO2 vertical columns around 2 × 1016 molecules cm−2 in the plume centre. NOx emissions estimated from the AirMAP observations are consistent with reports in the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register. Strong spatial gradients and variability in NO2 amounts across and along flight direction are observed, and small-scale enhancements of NO2 above a motorway are detected.

Short summary
The study reports on the application of an aircraft-based instrument (AirMAP) measuring atmospheric nitrogen dioxide. Two-dimensional maps are produced at a spatial resolution of 28m x 30m and with wide spatial coverage. The instrument characteristics are explained and the detailed mapping of a power plant emission plume is demonstrated. Small-scale enhanced amounts of nitrogen dioxide from traffic are observed above a motorway.