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Other research product . 2022

The realization of autonomous, aircraft-based, real-time aerosol mass spectrometry in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere

Dragoneas, Antonis; Molleker, Sergej; Appel, Oliver; Hünig, Andreas; Böttger, Thomas; Hermann, Markus; Drewnick, Frank; +3 Authors
Open Access
Published: 12 Oct 2022

We report on the developments that enabled the field deployment of a fully automated aerosol mass spectrometer, especially designed for high-altitude measurements on unpressurized aircraft. The merits of the two main categories of real-time aerosol mass spectrometry, i.e. (a) single-particle laser desorption and ionization and (b) continuous thermal desorption and electron impact ionization of aerosols, have been integrated into one compact apparatus with the aim to perform in situ real-time analysis of aerosol chemical composition. The demonstrated instrument, named the ERICA (European Research Council Instrument for Chemical composition of Aerosols), operated successfully aboard the high-altitude research aircraft M-55 Geophysica at altitudes up to 20 km while being exposed to ambient conditions of very low atmospheric pressure and temperature. A primary goal of those field deployments was the in situ study of the Asian tropopause aerosol layer (ATAL). During 11 research flights, the instrument operated for more than 49 h and collected chemical composition information of more than 150 000 single particles combined with quantitative chemical composition analysis of aerosol particle ensembles. This paper presents in detail the technical characteristics of the main constituent parts of the instrument, as well as the design considerations for its integration into the aircraft and its autonomous operation in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS). Additionally, system performance data from the first field deployments of the instrument are presented and discussed, together with exemplary mass spectrometry data collected during those flights.

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Funded by
Stratospheric and upper tropospheric processes for better climate predictions
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 603557
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP1 | ENV
In-situ experiments on the chemical composition of high altitude aerosols and clouds in the tropical upper troposphere and lower stratosphere
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 321040
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP2 | ERC
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