Publication Details

Smale, D., Sherlock, V., Griffith, D., Moss, R., Brailsford, G., Nichol, S. & Kotkamp, M. (2019). A decade of CH4, CO and N2O in situ measurements at Lauder, New Zealand: Assessing the long-term performance of a Fourier transform infrared trace gas and isotope analyser. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 12 (1), 637-673.


We present a 10-year (January 2007-December 2016) time series of continuous in situ measurements of methane (CH4), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrous oxide (N2O) made by an in situ Fourier transform infrared trace gas and isotope analyser (FTIR) operated at Lauder, New Zealand (45.04 S, 169.68 E, 370 m a. m. s. l.). Being the longest continuous deployed operational FTIR system of this type, we are in an ideal position to perform a practical evaluation of the multi-year performance of the analyser. The operational methodology, measurement precision, reproducibility, accuracy and instrument reliability are reported. We find the FTIR has a measurement repeatability of the order of 0.37 ppb (1σ standard deviation) for CH4, 0.31 ppb for CO and 0.12 ppb for N2O. Regular target cylinder measurements provide a reproducibility estimate of 1.19 ppb for CH4, 0.74 ppb for CO and 0.27 ppb for N2O. FTIR measurements are compared to co-located ambient air flask samples acquired at Lauder since May 2009, which allows a long-term assessment of the FTIR data set across annual and seasonal composition changes. Comparing FTIR and co-located flask measurements show that the bias (FTIR minus flask) for CH4 of −1.02 ± 2.61 ppb and CO of −0.43 ± 1.60 ppb are within the Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW)-recommended compatibility goals of 2 ppb. The N2O FTIR flask bias of −0.01 ± 0.77 ppb is within the GAW-recommended compatibility goals of 0.1 ppb and should be viewed as a serendipitous result due to the large standard deviation along with known systematic differences in the measurement sets. Uncertainty budgets for each gas are also constructed based on instrument precision, reproducibility and accuracy. In the case of CH4, systematic uncertainty dominates, whilst for CO and N2O it is comparable to the random uncertainty component. The long-term instrument stability, precision estimates and flask comparison results indicate the FTIR CH4 and CO time series meet the GAW compatibility recommendations across multiple years of operation (and instrument changes) and are sufficient to capture annual trends and seasonal cycles observed at Lauder. The differences between FTIR and flask N2O measurements need to be reconciled. Trend analysis of the 10-year time series captures seasonal cycles and the secular upward trend of CH4 and N2O. The CH4 and CO time series have the required precision and accuracy at a high enough temporal resolution to be used in inversion models in a data-sparse region of the world.



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