03 May 2024
 | 03 May 2024
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

UAV Based In situ Measurements of CO2 and CH4 Fluxes over Complex Natural Ecosystems

Abdullah Bolek, Martin Heimann, and Mathias Goeckede

Abstract. This study presents an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platform used to resolve horizontal and vertical patterns of CO2 and CH4 mole fractions within the lower part of the atmospheric boundary layer. The obtained data contribute important information for upscaling fluxes from natural ecosystems over heterogeneous terrain, and for constraining hot spots of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This observational tool, therefore, has the potential to complement existing stationary carbon monitoring networks for GHGs, such as eddy covariance towers and manual flux chambers. The UAV platform is equipped with two gas analyzers for CO2 and CH4 which are connected sequentially. In addition, a 2D anemometer is deployed above the rotor plane to measure environmental parameters including 2D wind speed, air temperature, humidity, and pressure. Laboratory and field tests demonstrate that the platform is capable of providing data with reliable accuracy, with good agreement between the UAV data and tower-based measurements of CO2 and CH4 , and wind speed. Using interpolated maps of GHG mole fractions, with this tool we assessed the signal variability over a target area, and identified potential hot spots. Our study shows that the UAV platform provides information about the spatial variability of the lowest part of the boundary layer, which up to this date remains poorly observed, especially in remote areas such as the Arctic. Furthermore, using the profile method, it is demonstrated that the GHG fluxes from a local source can be calculated. Although subject to large uncertainties over the area of interest, the comparison between the eddy covariance method and UAV-based calculations showed acceptable qualitative agreement.

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Abdullah Bolek, Martin Heimann, and Mathias Goeckede

Status: open (until 05 Jul 2024)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2024-74', Anonymous Referee #1, 03 May 2024 reply
Abdullah Bolek, Martin Heimann, and Mathias Goeckede
Abdullah Bolek, Martin Heimann, and Mathias Goeckede


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Short summary
This study describes the development of a new UAV platform to measure atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) mole fractions, 2D wind speed, air temperature, humidity, and pressure. Understanding GHG flux processes and controls across various ecosystems is essential for estimating the current and future state of climate change. It was shown that using the UAV platform for such measurements is beneficial for improving our understanding of GHG processes over complex landscapes.