Design Of A Novel Open-Path Aerosol Extinction Cavity Ringdown Spectrometer And Initial Data From Deployment At NOAA’s Atmospheric Observatory

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Timothy Dean Gordon1, Nicholas L Wagner1, Mathews Richardson1, Daniel C. Law1, Daniel E Wolfe2, Charles A Brock1, Frank Erdesz1 and Daniel M Murphy1, (1)NOAA ESRL, Boulder, CO, United States, (2)NOAA, Boulder, CO, United States
The ability to frame effective climate change policy depends strongly on reducing the uncertainty in aerosol radiative forcing, which is currently nearly as great as best estimates of its magnitude. Achieving this goal will require significant progress in measuring aerosol properties, including aerosol optical depth, single scattering albedo and the effect of relative humidity on these properties for both fine and coarse particles. However both ground- and space-based instruments fail or are highly biased in the presence of clouds, severely limiting quantitative estimates of the radiative effects of aerosols where they are advected over low-level clouds. Moreover, many in situ aerosol measurements exclude the coarse fraction, which can be very important in and downwind of desert regions.

By measuring the decay rate of a pulsed laser in an optically resonant cavity, cavity ringdown spectrometers (CRDSs) have been employed successfully in measuring aerosol extinction for particles in relative humidities below 90%. At very high humidities (as found in and near clouds), however, existing CRDSs perform poorly, diverging significantly from theoretical extinction values as humidities approach 100%. The new open-path aerosol extinction CRDS described in this poster measures extinction as aerosol is drawn through the sample cavity directly without inlets or tubing for channeling the flow, which cause particle losses, condensation at high RH and other artifacts. This poster presents the key elements of the new open-path CRDS design as well as comparisons with an earlier generation closed-path CRDS and preliminary data obtained during a field study at the 300 meter tower at NOAA’s Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO) in Colorado.