A novel, cost-effective analytical method for measuring high-resolution...

Li, J., B. Baier, F. Moore, T. Newberger, S. Wolter, J. Higgs, G. Dutton, E. Hintsa, B. Hall, and C. Sweeney (2023), A novel, cost-effective analytical method for measuring high-resolution vertical profiles of stratospheric trace gases using a gas chromatograph coupled with an electron capture detector, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 16, 2851-2863, doi:10.5194/amt-16-2851-2023.

The radiative balance of the upper atmosphere is dependent on the magnitude and distribution of greenhouse gases and aerosols in that region. Climate models predict that with increasing surface temperature, the primary mechanism for transporting tropospheric air into the stratosphere (known as the Brewer–Dobson circulation) will strengthen, leading to changes in the distribution of atmospheric water vapor, other greenhouse gases, and aerosols. Stratospheric relationships between greenhouse gases and other long-lived trace gases with various photochemical properties (such as N2 O, SF6 , and chlorofluorocarbons) provide a strong constraint for tracking changes in the stratospheric circulation. Therefore, a cost-effective approach is needed to monitor these trace gases in the stratosphere. In the past decade, the balloon-borne AirCore sampler developed at NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory has been routinely used to monitor the mole fractions of CO2 , CH4 , and CO from the ground to approximately 25 km above mean sea level. Our recent development work adapted a gas chromatograph coupled with an electron capture detector (GC-ECD) to measure a suite of trace gases (N2 O, SF6 , CFC-11, CFC-12, H-1211, and CFC-113) in the stratospheric portion of AirCores. This instrument, called the StratoCore-GC-ECD, allows us to retrieve vertical profiles of these molecules at high resolution (5–7 hPa per measurement). We launched four AirCore flights and analyzed the stratospheric air samples for these trace gases. The results showed consistent and expected tracer–tracer relationships and good agreement with recent aircraft campaign measurements. Our work demonstrates that the StratoCore-GC-ECD system provides a low-cost and robust approach to measuring key stratospheric trace gases in AirCore samples and for evaluating changes in the stratospheric circulation.

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Atmospheric Composition
Tropospheric Composition Program (TCP)