Performance of open-path lasers and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopic systems in agriculture emissions research

Publication Name

Atmospheric Measurement Techniques


The accumulation of gases into our atmosphere is a growing global concern that requires considerable quantification of the emission rates to mitigate the accumulation of gases in the atmosphere, especially the greenhouse gases (GHGs). In agriculture there are many sources of GHGs that require attention in order to develop practical mitigation strategies. Measuring these GHG sources often relies on highly technical instrumentation originally designed for applications outside of the emissions research in agriculture. Although the open-path laser (OPL) and open-path Fourier transform infrared (OP-FTIR) spectroscopic techniques are used in agricultural research currently, insight into their contributing error to emissions research has not been the focus of these studies. The objective of this study was to assess the applicability and performance (accuracy and precision) of OPL and OP-FTIR spectroscopic techniques for measuring gas mole fractions from agricultural sources. We measured the mole fractions of trace gases methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and ammonia (NH3), downwind of point and area sources with a known release rate. The mole fractions measured by OP-FTIR and OPL were also input into models of atmospheric dispersion (WindTrax) allowing the calculation of fluxes. Trace gas release recoveries with WindTrax were examined by comparing the ratio of estimated and known fluxes. The OP-FTIR provided the best performance regarding stability of drift in stable conditions. The CH4 OPL accurately detected the low background (free-air) level of CH4; however, the NH3 OPL was unable to detect the background values <10 ppbv. The dispersion modelling using WindTrax coupled with open-path measurements can be a useful tool to calculate trace gas fluxes from the well-defined source area.

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ACT Government



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