Thermal infrared laser heterodyne spectroradiometry for solar occultation atmospheric CO2 measurements
- Space Science and Technology Department (RAL Space), STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell Campus, Didcot, OX11 0QX, UK
Abstract. This technology demonstration paper reports on the development, demonstration, performance assessment, and initial data analysis of a benchtop prototype quantum cascade laser heterodyne spectroradiometer, operating within a narrow spectral window of ∼ 1 cm−1 around 953.1 cm−1 in transmission mode and coupled to a passive Sun tracker. The instrument has been specifically designed for accurate dry air total column, and potentially vertical profile, measurements of CO2. Data from over 8 months of operation in 2015 near Didcot, UK, confirm that atmospheric measurements with noise levels down to 4 times the shot noise limit can be achieved with the current instrument. Over the 8-month period, spectra with spectral resolutions of 60 MHz (0.002 cm−1) and 600 MHz (0.02 cm−1) have been acquired with median signal-to-noise ratios of 113 and 257, respectively, and a wavenumber calibration uncertainty of 0.0024 cm−1.
Using the optimal estimation method and RFM as the radiative transfer forward model, prior analysis and theoretical benchmark modelling had been performed with an observation system simulator (OSS) to target an optimized spectral region of interest. The selected narrow spectral window includes both CO2 and H2O ro-vibrational transition lines to enable the measurement of dry air CO2 column from a single spectrum. The OSS and preliminary retrieval results yield roughly 8 degrees of freedom for signal (over the entire state vector) for an arbitrarily chosen a priori state with relatively high uncertainty ( ∼ 4 for CO2). Preliminary total column mixing ratios obtained are consistent with GOSAT monthly data. At a spectral resolution of 60 MHz with an acquisition time of 90 s, instrumental noise propagation yields an error of around 1.5 ppm on the dry air total column of CO2, exclusive of biases and geophysical parameters errors at this stage.