19 Nov 2021

19 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Air quality observations onboard commercial and targeted Zeppelin flights in Germany – a platform for high-resolution trace-gas and aerosol measurements within the planetary boundary layer

Ralf Tillmannn1, Georgios I. Gkatzelis1, Franz Rohrer1, Benjamin Winter1, Christian Wesolek1, Tobias Schuldt1, Anne Caroline Lange1, Philipp Franke1, Elmar Friese1, Michael Decker1, Robert Wegener1, Morten Hundt2, Oleg Aseev2, and Astrid Kiendler-Scharr1 Ralf Tillmannn et al.
  • 1Institute of Energy and Climate Research, IEK-8: Troposphere, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Jülich, Germany
  • 2MIRO Analytical AG, Wallisellen, 8304, Switzerland

Abstract. A Zeppelin airship was used as a platform for in-situ measurements of greenhouse gases and short-lived air pollutants within the planetary boundary layer in Germany. A novel quantum cascade laser-based multi-compound gas analyzer (MIRO Analytical AG) was deployed to simultaneously measure in-situ concentrations of greenhouse gases (CO2, N2O, H2O, and CH4) and air pollutants (CO, NO, NO2, O3, SO2, and NH3) with high precision at a measurement rate of 1 Hz. These measurements were complemented by electrochemical sensors for NO, NO2, Ox (NO2+O3), and CO, an optical particle counter, temperature, humidity, altitude, and position monitoring. Instruments were operated remotely without the need for on-site interactions. Three two-week campaigns were conducted in 2020 comprising commercial passenger as well as targeted flights over multiple German cities including Cologne, Mönchengladbach, Düsseldorf, Aachen, Frankfurt, but also over industrial areas and highways.

Vertical profiles of trace gases were obtained during the airship landing and take-off. Diurnal variability of the Zeppelin vertical profiles was compared to measurements from ground-based monitoring stations with a focus on nitrogen oxides and ozone. We find that their variability can be explained by the increasing nocturnal boundary layer height from early morning towards midday, an increase in emissions during rush hour traffic, and the rapid photochemical activity midday. Higher altitude (250–450 m) NOX to CO ratios are further compared to the 2015 EDGAR emission inventory to find that pollutant concentrations are influenced by transportation and residential emissions as well as manufacturing industries and construction activity. Finally, we report NOx and CO concentrations from one plume transect originating from a coal power plant and compare it to the EURAD-IM model to find agreement within 15 %. However, due to the increased contribution of solar and wind energy and/or the impact of lockdown measures the power plant was operated at max. 50 % capacity; therefore, possible overestimation of emissions by the model cannot be excluded.

Ralf Tillmannn et al.

Status: open (until 25 Dec 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2021-360', Anonymous Referee #1, 03 Dec 2021 reply
    • RC2: 'Reply on RC1', Anonymous Referee #1, 03 Dec 2021 reply

Ralf Tillmannn et al.

Ralf Tillmannn et al.


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Short summary
We report in-situ measurements of air pollutant concentrations within the planetary boundary layer on board a Zeppelin in Germany. The low costs of commercial flights provide an affordable and efficient method to improve our understanding of changes in emissions in space and time. The experimental setup expands the capabilities of this platform and provides insights into primary and secondary pollution observations and planetary boundary layer dynamics which determine air quality significantly.