What does this program measure?
This project measures 14CO, a naturally occurring radioactive tracer, in units of molecules/cm 3. It also measures 13CO, C18O. Also noted are local meteorological conditions during sampling (wind speed, direction, temperature, precipitation).
How does this program work?
We collect large, whole air samples, extract the air in the laboratory, isolate the gas, and measure it using accelerator mass spectrometry. Samples are collected weekly, during down slope conditions (around 4am local time). Local meteorological conditions during sampling are noted (wind speed, direction, temperature, precipitation). The system is automated and the cylinder is filled to approximately 800 psi.
Why is this research important?
We use 14CO as a tracer of OH (hydroxyl) concentration, which is important for its reactivity with many other trace gases. By doing so, we can determine the lifetime of those trace gases, and whether or not the lifetime is changing.
Are there any trends in the data?
To be determined.
How does this program fit into the big picture?
What is it's role in global climate change?
OH radical (hydroxyl) is the most reactive oxidant in the atmosphere. Any variation in OH abundance will lead to changes in the abundances of many trace gas species in the atmosphere, including methane (CH4), carbon monoxide (CO), and volatile organic compounds.
Comments and References
Measurements of 14CO in the NH Tropics