Members’ Publications

In situ observation of atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide in the North Pacific using a cargo ship

Hoshina Y., Tohjima Y., Katsumata K., Machida T., Nakaoka S.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 9283–9295

Atmospheric oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) variations in the North Pacific were measured aboard a cargo ship, the New Century 2 (NC2), while it cruised between Japan and the United States between December 2015 and November 2016. A fuel cell analyzer and a nondispersive infrared analyzer were used for the measurement of O2 and CO2, respectively. To achieve parts-per-million precision for the O2 measurements, we precisely controlled the flow rates of the sample and reference air introduced into the analyzers and the outlet pressure. A relatively low airflow rate (10 cm3min−1) was adopted to reduce the consumption rate of the reference gases. In the laboratory, the system achieved measurement precisions of 3.8 per meg for δ(O2/N2), which is commonly used to express atmospheric O2 variation, and 0.1ppm for the CO2 mole fraction. After the in situ observation started aboard NC2, we found that the ship's motion caused false wavy variations in the O2 signal with an amplitude of more than several tens of ppm and a period of about 20s. Although we have not resolved the problem at this stage, hourly averaging considerably suppressed the variation associated with ship motion. Comparison between the in situ observation and flask sampling of air samples aboard NC2 showed that the averaged differences (in situ–flask) and the standard deviations (±1σ) are −2.8 ± 9.4 per meg for δ(O2/N2) and −0.02 ± 0.33 ppm for the CO2 mole fraction. We compared 1 year of in situ data for atmospheric potential oxygen (APO; O2 +1.1 × CO2) obtained from the broad middle-latitude region (140°E–130°W, 29°N–45°N) with previous flask sampling data from the North Pacific. This comparison showed that longitudinal differences in the seasonal amplitude of APO, ranging from 51 to 73 per meg, were smaller than the latitudinal differences.