OA-ICOS spectroscopy measures atmospheric methane

Cavity-enhanced laser-based methane analyzers from Los Gatos Research (LGR) have enabled scientists to measure methane-gas venting fluxes in extreme Arctic conditions from a helicopter in real time.

Apr 4th, 2012
The vertical mixing ratio of methane in the atmosphere above the southeast Laptev Sea is measured during a helicopter survey using the fast methane analyzer from LGR
The vertical mixing ratio of methane in the atmosphere above the southeast Laptev Sea is measured during a helicopter survey using the fast methane analyzer from LGR

Cavity-enhanced laser-based methane analyzers from Los Gatos Research (LGR; Los Gatos, CA) have enabled scientists to measure methane-gas venting fluxes in extreme Arctic conditions from a helicopter in real time. Scientists from the University of Alaska (Fairbanks, AK), the Russian Academy of Sciences (Vladivostok, Russia), and Stockholm University (Stockholm, Sweden) are publishing a case study on escaping methane plumes from East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) sea sediments and found that traditional gas chromatography and other laser-based instruments were too expensive, slow, temperature- and pressure-sensitive, and subject to optical misalignment compared to LGR’s patented off-axis integrated cavity output spectroscopy (OA-ICOS) system.


The scientists reported that the fully automated OA-ICOS system was not only compact, self-contained, and maintenance-free, but accurate enough to gather methane mole-fraction data from a flying helicopter at remote sensing distances with much higher dynamic range (part-per-billion to several percent) than other spectroscopy-based technologies. The data obtained from the LGR instruments showed that total annual flux for methane emissions from ESAS (8 teragrams, or 8 Tg) is nearly equivalent to the total estimated emissions from all the world’s oceans. Contact Doug Baer atd.baer@lgrinc.com.

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