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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A novel Whole Air Sample Profiler (WASP) for the quantification of volatile organic compounds in the boundary layer

  • Author(s): Mak, JE
  • Su, L
  • Guenther, A
  • Karl, T
  • et al.

Abstract. The emission and fate of reactive volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is of inherent interest to those studying chemical biosphere–atmosphere interactions. In-canopy VOC observations are obtainable using tower-based samplers, but the lack of suitable sampling systems for the full boundary layer has limited the availability of data characterizing the vertical structure of such gases above the canopy height and still in the boundary layer. This is an important region where many reactive VOCs are oxidized or otherwise removed. Here we describe an airborne sampling system designed to collect a vertical profile of air into a 3/8 in. OD (outer diameter) tube 150 m in length. The inlet ram air pressure is used to flow sampled air through the tube, which results in a varying flow rate based on aircraft speed and altitude. Since aircraft velocity decreases during ascent, it is necessary to account for the variable flow rate into the tube. This is accomplished using a reference gas that is pulsed into the air stream so that the precise altitude of the collected air can be reconstructed post-collection. The pulsed injections are also used to determine any significant effect from diffusion/mixing within the sampling tube, either during collection or subsequent extraction for gas analysis. This system has been successfully deployed, and we show some measured vertical profiles of isoprene and its oxidation products methacrolein and methyl vinyl ketone from a mixed canopy near Columbia, Missouri.

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