Articles | Volume 8, issue 1
Research article
09 Jan 2015
Research article |  | 09 Jan 2015

An airborne perfluorocarbon tracer system and its first application for a Lagrangian experiment

Y. Ren, R. Baumann, and H. Schlager

Abstract. A perfluorocarbon tracer system (PERTRAS), specifically designed for Lagrangian aircraft experiments, has been developed by the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (German Aerospace Center, DLR). It consists of three main parts: a tracer release unit (RU), an adsorption tube sampler (ATS), and a tracer analytical system. The RU was designed for airborne tracer release experiments; meanwhile, it can be used on various platforms for different experimental purposes (here research vessel). PERTRAS was for the first time applied in the field campaign Stratospheric ozone: Halogen Impacts in a Varying Atmosphere (SHIVA) in November 2011. An amount of 8.8 kg perfluoromethylcyclopentane (PMCP) was released aboard the research vessel Sonne (RV Sonne) near the operational site of this campaign, Miri, Malaysia, on 21 November. The tracer samples collected using the ATS onboard the DLR research aircraft Falcon were analyzed in the laboratory using a thermal desorber–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (TD–GC–MS) system. Guided by forecasts calculated with the Lagrangian model Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT), 64 tracer samples were collected onboard the Falcon approximately 5 and 25 h after the release, mostly with a time resolution of 1 min. Enhanced PMCP concentrations relative to ambient PMCP background values (mean: 6.62 fmol mol−1) were detected during three intersects of the fresh tracer plume (age 5 h), with a maximum value of 301.33 fmol mol−1. This indicates that the fresh tracer plume was successfully intercepted at the forecast position. During the second flight, 25 h after the release, the center of tracer plume was not detected by the sampling system due to a faster advection of the plume than forecast. The newly developed PERTRAS system has been successfully deployed for the first time. The instrumental setup and comparisons between the measurements and HYSPLIT simulations are presented in this study.