Abstract

An autonomous instrument based on off-axis integrated cavity output spectroscopy has been developed and successfully deployed for measurements of carbon monoxide in the troposphere and tropopause onboard a NASA DC-8 aircraft. The instrument (Carbon Monoxide Gas Analyzer) consists of a measurement cell comprised of two high-reflectivity mirrors, a continuous-wave quantum-cascade laser, gas sampling system, control and data-acquisition electronics, and data-analysis software. CO measurements were determined from high-resolution CO absorption line shapes obtained by tuning the laser wavelength over the R(7) transition of the fundamental vibration band near 2172.8 cm−1 The instrument reports CO mixing ratio (mole fraction) at a 1-Hz rate based on measured absorption, gas temperature, and pressure using Beer’s Law. During several flights in May–June 2004 and January 2005 that reached altitudes of 41,000 ft (12.5 km), the instrument recorded CO values with a precision of 0.2 ppbv (1-s averaging time) and an accuracy limited by the reference CO gas cylinder (uncertainty <1.0%). Despite moderate turbulence and measurements of particulate-laden airflows, the instrument operated consistently and did not require any maintenance, mirror cleaning, or optical realignment during the flights.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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