Boston Column Network: Compact Solar-Tracking Spectrometers and Differential Column Measurements

Friday, 19 December 2014
Jia Chen1, Jenna Samra1, Elaine Gottlieb1, John Budney1, Conner Daube1, Bruce C Daube1, Frank Hase2, Christoph Gerbig3, Kelly Chance4 and Steven C Wofsy1, (1)Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, United States, (2)Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany, (3)Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany, (4)Harvard-Smithsonian, Cambridge, MA, United States
In urban environments, the surface concentration is influenced by both the dynamics of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) height and by emissions. Path-integrated measurements that integrate through the entire mixed layer are valuable complements to surface data, compatible with the scale of the atmospheric models and therefore help reduce the representation errors in data assimilation studies of surface emission rates.

Here we present a ground-based column sensor network in metro Boston. The network extends the existing surface sensor network to the vertical dimension in order to help quantify the concentration gradients across a city using a differential strategy: by measuring the “total column” of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, H2O etc.) and pollutants (NO2, O3, CH2O etc.) simultaneously inside and upwind of the urban core. Each stationary network site has a Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (Bruker, EM27Sun), a UV-visible grating spectrometer (Pandora) and a LIDAR (Sigma Space, Mini MPL) to provide PBL height.

Two EM27Sun Fourier transform spectrometers at fixed locations are complemented by our self-developed solar-tracking Fourier transform spectrometer (Nicolet) to be used as a mobile unit to acquire cross-sectional slices of total column burdens across the urban dome. In additional to O2, CO2, CH4, H2O measurements, this system is also capable of measuring CO and N2O. This compact, inexpensive instrument uses a diffuser as a part of the tracking optics, which results in a rugged and simplified system. A novel camera-based active tracking schema is developed: the sun image on the diffuser is always regulated to the same position to ensure an accurate tracking.

In this paper we will show comparisons between the self-developed solar-tracking system and the commercial Bruker EM27Sun. In addition, initial data for the retrieved column concentrations in and outside of the Boston urban dome will be presented.