Vertically Integrated Measuring and Monitoring Instrumentation for Terrestrial Sinks and Sources of Carbon Dioxide

Period of Performance: 01/01/2006 - 12/31/2006


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Atmospheric Observing Systems, Inc.
1930 Central Avenue, Suite A
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator


Tower-based observatories monitor terrestrial ecosystems from a single spot; however, it is not known if the observations are applicable to the entire ecosystem. A vertically-integrated suite of technologies could be used to evaluate ecosystem-atmospheric interactions and determine the actual utility of tower-based systems; however, for reasons of safety and expense, piloted aircraft cannot be used to provide the needed observations. This project will build and deploy such a vertically-integrated suite of technologies that will include: (1) probes for monitoring the transient flux of carbon dioxide (CO2) associated with the dispersal of respiration at the onset of solar heating each morning; (2) tower- and mooring-based instrumentation for continuous observations of CO2 concentration and steady-state, eddy covariance flux; and (3) a radio-controlled Unmanned Airborne Vehicle (UAV), fitted with a high precision analyzer system and capable of monitoring the time series of CO2 for the entire range of ambient conditions. In Phase I, a commercial UAV was purchased and integrated with a high precision CO2 analyzer. The UAV was deployed multiple times, and observations were verified by sampling from a short tower sited at the center of the flight pattern. Discrete probes were developed successfully to monitor CO2 concentrations on or within the atmospheric interface. In Phase II, the UAV will be upgraded for increased flight time and the measurement of additional atmospheric variables. Inexpensive UAVs that carry the same payload will be developed to provide a platform that is suitable for high risk deployments. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The integrated measurement suite could be used to provide observational services with respect to the monitoring of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The UAV platform could provide improved high precision payloads and products required for scientifically important missions