Abstract

Matching the spectral response between multiple spectrometers is a mandatory procedure when developing robust calibrations whose prediction is independent of instrument-related signal variations. A viable alternative to complex calibration transfer methods consists of matching the instrument spectral response by controlling a set of key instrumental and environmental parameters. This paper discusses the applicability of such an approach to three Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectrometers used for the routine assessment of carbonaceous particulate matter concentrations in the Interagency Monitoring of PROtected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) speciation network. The effectiveness of the proposed matching procedure is evaluated by comparing the spectral response for each individual instrument in order to characterize the extent, and nature, of the remaining inter-instrument spectral dissimilarities. Instrument-related contributions to the signal were determined to be small compared with the spectral variability induced by the filter type used for sample collection. The impact of spectral differences on prediction was addressed through the comparison of model performance derived from multiple calibration scenarios. A hybrid model yielding accurate and homogeneous prediction regardless of the instrument was proposed for organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC), two major constituents of atmospheric particulate matter. Coefficients of determination of 0.98 (OC) and 0.90 (EC) with median biases not exceeding 0.20 µg (OC) and 0.07 µg (EC) are reported. The long-term stability, assessed from weekly measurements of reference samples, shows a deviation in predicted concentrations of less than ±5% over a 2.5-year period for most of the data collected. Extending OC and EC hybrid models to the prediction of ambient samples collected during the two subsequent years provides satisfactory performance. The proposed instrument matching procedure coupled with the relative simplicity of the hybrid model is an alternative to computationally advanced calibration transfer methodologies for the characterization of carbonaceous particulate matter using multiple FT-IR instruments.

© 2018 The Author(s)

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Supplementary Material (1)

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