Measurements of diurnal variations and Eddy Covariance (EC) fluxes of glyoxal in the tropical marine boundary layer: description of the Fast LED-CE-DOAS instrument Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract. Here we present first Eddy Covariance (EC) measurements of fluxes of glyoxal, the smallest α-dicarbonyl product of hydrocarbon oxidation, and a precursor for secondary organic aerosol (SOA). The unique physical and chemical properties of glyoxal, i.e., high solubility in water (Henry's Law constant, KH = 4.2 × 105 M atm−1) and short atmospheric lifetime (~2 h at solar noon) make it a unique indicator species for organic carbon oxidation in the marine atmosphere. Previous reports of elevated glyoxal over oceans remain unexplained by atmospheric models. Here we describe a Fast Light Emitting Diode Cavity Enhanced Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (Fast LED-CE-DOAS) instrument to measure diurnal variations and EC fluxes of glyoxal, and inform about its unknown sources. The fast in situ sensor is described, and first results are presented from a cruise deployment over the Eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (20° N to 10° S; 133° W to 85° W) as part of the Tropical Ocean Troposphere Exchange of Reactive Halogens and OVOC (TORERO) field experiment (January to March 2012). The Fast LED-CE-DOAS is a multispectral sensor that selectively and simultaneously measures glyoxal (CHOCHO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), oxygen dimers (O4) and water vapor (H2O) with ~2 Hz time resolution, and a precision of ~40 pptv Hz−0.5 for glyoxal. The instrument is demonstrated to be a "white-noise" sensor suitable for EC flux measurements; further, highly sensitive and inherently calibrated glyoxal measurements are obtained from temporal averaging of data (~2 pptv detection limit over 1 h). The campaign averaged mixing ratio in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) is found to be 43 ± 9 pptv glyoxal, and is higher than in the Northern Hemisphere (NH: 32 ± 6 pptv; error reflects variability over multiple days). The diurnal variation of glyoxal in the MBL is measured for the first time, and mixing ratios vary by ~8 ppt (NH) and ~12 pptv (SH) over the course of 24 h. Consistently, maxima are observed at sunrise (NH: 35 ± 5 pptv; SH: 47 ± 7 pptv) and minima at dusk (NH: 27 ± 5 pptv; SH: 35 ± 8 pptv). Ours are the first EC flux measurements of glyoxal. In both hemispheres, the daytime flux was directed from the atmosphere into the ocean, indicating that the ocean is a net sink for glyoxal during the day. After sunset the ocean was a source for glyoxal to the atmosphere (positive flux) in the SH; this primary ocean source was operative throughout the night. In the NH, the nighttime flux was positive only shortly after sunset, and negative during most of the night. Positive EC fluxes of soluble glyoxal over oceans indicate the presence of an ocean surface organic microlayer (SML), and locate a glyoxal source within the SML. The origin of atmospheric glyoxal, and possibly other oxygenated hydrocarbons over tropical oceans warrants further investigation.;

publication date

  • June 20, 2014

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • November 12, 2020 11:23 AM

Full Author List

  • Coburn S; Ortega I; Thalman R; Blomquist B; Fairall CW; Volkamer R

author count

  • 6

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