25 Jan 2021

25 Jan 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal AMT.

UAS Chromatograph for Atmospheric Trace Species (UCATS) – a versatile instrument for trace gas measurements on airborne platforms

Eric J. Hintsa1,2, Fred L. Moore1,2, Dale F. Hurst1,2, Geoff S. Dutton1,2, Bradley D. Hall2, J. David Nance1,2, Ben R. Miller1,2, Stephen A. Montzka2, Laura P. Wolton1,2, Audra McClure-Begley1,2, James W. Elkins2, Emrys G. Hall1,2, Allen F. Jordan1,2, Andrew W. Rollins3, Troy D. Thornberry1,3, Laurel A. Watts1,3, Chelsea R. Thompson1,3, Jeff Peischl1,3, Ilann Bourgeois1,3, Thomas B. Ryerson3, Bruce C. Daube4, Jasna V. Pittman4, Steven C. Wofsy4, Eric Kort5, Glenn S. Diskin6, and T. Paul Bui7 Eric J. Hintsa et al.
  • 1Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, 80309, U.S.A.
  • 2Global Monitoring Laboratory, NOAA, Boulder, CO 80305, U.S.A.
  • 3Chemical Sciences Laboratory, NOAA, Boulder, CO 80305, U.S.A.
  • 4Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
  • 5Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
  • 6NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23681, U.S.A.
  • 7NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA 94035, U.S.A.

Abstract. UCATS (the UAS Chromatograph for Atmospheric Trace Species) was designed and built for observations of important atmospheric trace gases from unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UT/LS). Initially it measured major chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and the stratospheric transport tracers nitrous oxide (N2O) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), using gas chromatography with electron capture detection. Compact ozone (O3) and water vapor (H2O) instruments were added to enhance science missions on platforms with relatively small payloads. Over the past decade, UCATS has been reconfigured to measure methane (CH4), carbon monoxide (CO), and molecular hydrogen (H2) instead of CFCs and has undergone numerous upgrades to its subsystems. It has served as part of large payloads on stratospheric UAS missions to probe the tropical tropopause region and transport of air into the stratosphere, in piloted aircraft studies of greenhouse gases, transport, and chemistry in the troposphere, and will soon return to the study of stratospheric ozone depletion, one of the original goals for UCATS. Each deployment brought different challenges, which were largely met or resolved. The design, capabilities, modifications and some results from UCATS are shown and described here, including changes for upcoming missions.

Eric J. Hintsa et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2020-496', Anonymous Referee #1, 16 Feb 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on amt-2020-496', Marc von Hobe, 02 Mar 2021

Eric J. Hintsa et al.

Eric J. Hintsa et al.


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Short summary
We built UCATS to study atmospheric chemistry and transport. It has measured chlorofluorocarbons, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, methane, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen with gas chromatography, as well as ozone and water vapor. UCATS has been part of missions to study the tropical tropopause, transport of air into the stratosphere, greenhouse gases, transport, and chemistry in the troposphere, and ozone chemistry. Its design, capabilities, and some results are shown and described here.