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Latest method to quantify CO2 over oceans more competently than existing methods

20 January 2010 2 Comments

Technology.am (Jan 20, 2010) — Washington: Scientists have developed a latest technique to quantify carbon dioxide (CO2) over the ocean in a much enhanced manner than existing methods.

clouds_overThe system has been developed by researchers at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS), working in partnership with colleagues at the Bjerknes Center for Climate Research in Bergen, Norway.

Infrared gas sensors measure carbon dioxide (CO2) based on its typical absorption spectra and is used to assess the air-sea flux of the gas.

So-called closed-path sensors precondition air prior to measurements is made, while open-path sensors can be used to determine the air in situ.

“Open-path sensors have the prospective significantly to augment our understanding of the inconsistency of air-sea carbon dioxide fluxes,” said PhD student John Prytherch of the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science at NOCS.

Though, an ancient distress has been that the principles from open-path sensors do not compute with those from closed-path sensors, or with dimensions made by means of other techniques.

“We now believe that we understand the reason for the discrepancy and that we can correct for it,” said Prytherch.

The problem turns out to be that the sensors are sensitive to humidity, meaning that fluctuations in the amount of water vapor in the example air skew the carbon dioxide measurements.

This is most likely caused by salt particles on the sensor lens that absorb water.

Having recognized the difficulty, Prytherch and his colleagues developed and meticulously tested a original technique for correcting the information for the cross-sensitivity to humidity.

Data were collected on board the Norwegian weather ship Polarfront, prepared with a battery of instruments to quantify wind speed, humidity and carbon dioxide.

The researchers noted that the CO2 fluxes calculated from open-path sensor data were obviously too high and affected by humidity.

They were also very inconsistent, suggesting that the outcome is caused by salt on the optics, which gather prior to being washed off by rain.

However, subsequent to amendment using their newly developed method, the calculated CO2 fluxes were in line with earlier studies that used diverse sensors or techniques.

“This strong technique opens the means for extensive use of open-path sensors for air-sea carbon dioxide flux estimation,” said Dr Margaret Yelland of NOCS.

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