VOC Measurements Group

Our group strives to be a world leader in the measurement of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and the interpretation and synthesis of these measurements in the full context of atmospheric chemistry. A main goal of our research is to participate in collaborative efforts to quantify the chemical composition of the atmosphere, characterize how it is changing in response to natural and anthropogenic forcings, and, ultimately, develop the capability to predict changes that may have important implications for the health of Earth’s ecosystems. We have developed expertise in the development and deployment of instrumentation to measure a suite of VOCs (non-methane hydrocarbons, oxygenated VOCs, CFCs and HCFCs) that directly impact the chemistry of the troposphere and lower stratosphere or serve as tracers for transport and other atmospheric processes. Our Trace Organic Gas Analyzer (TOGA) is a state-of-the-art on-line fast GC-MS, developed for use aboard aircraft, that measures up to 70 species with LODs equal to or better than 2 pptv for most species. Developed as a requestable instrument for the NCAR deployment pool, the TOGA reports measurements every two minutes during flights, providing valuable flight-planning feedback in near real time. Since its completion in 2012 the TOGA has been requested often and has benefitted the NSF-funded research community by being a key part of many research missions.

We provide leadership and assistance to the community by sharing our knowledge of VOC measurement and calibration techniques. This started with the NOn-Methane Hydrocarbon Intercomparison Experiment (NOMHICE), an IGAC-sanctioned, NOAA-sponsored program that involved evaluating the performance of laboratories around the world conducting hydrocarbon measurements and publishing data on the measurements. NOMHICE was a designed to bring participating laboratories to a level of expertise so that measurements of hydrocarbons by different groups around the world are accurate and comparable. Evaluations were carried out on state-of-the-art technology for collection, analysis, and storage of hydrocarbons. This capability remains in our laboratory. As a result of this program we have a series of NIST-certified VOC standards at the ppbV through ppmV level and have developed the capability for making highly accurate VOC calibration standards. We have cross-calibrated all of our standards and have in the past made these available to the community. We retain all of the instrumentation and capabilities that resulted from this program.

 Home page Collage

Clockwise from top left: OASIS-2009 sampling site in Barrow, Alaska; Measurement Tower at Manitou Experimental Forest near Woodland Park, Colorado during BEACHON-ROCS; the NSF/NCAR Gulfstream V returning to GUAM at the end of a CONTRAST flight; the NSF/NCAR C-130 takes off at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield, Colorado during FRAPPÉ.




ACOM | Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling