Field comparison of two novel open-path instruments that measure dry deposition and emission of ammonia using flux-gradient and eddy covariance methods

Daan Swart, Jun Zhang, Shelley Van Der Graaf, Susanna Rutledge-Jonker*, Arjan Hensen, Stijn Berkhout, Pascal Wintjen, René Van Der Hoff, Marty Haaima, Arnoud Frumau, Pim Van Den Bulk, Ruben Schulte, Margreet Van Zanten, Thomas Van Goethem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Dry deposition of ammonia (NH3) is the largest contributor to the nitrogen deposition from the atmosphere to soil and vegetation in the Netherlands, causing eutrophication and loss of biodiversity; however, data sets of NH3 fluxes are sparse and in general have monthly resolution at best. An important reason for this is that measurement of the NH3 flux under dry conditions is notoriously difficult. There is no technique that can be considered as the gold standard for these measurements, which complicates the testing of new techniques. Here, we present the results of an intercomparison of two novel measurement set-ups aimed at measuring dry deposition of NH3 at half hourly resolution. Over a 5-week period, we operated two novel optical open-path techniques side by side at the Ruisdael station in Cabauw, the Netherlands: the RIVM-miniDOAS 2.2D using the aerodynamic gradient technique, and the commercial Healthy Photon HT8700E using the eddy covariance technique. These instruments are widely different in their measurement principle and approach to derive deposition values from measured concentrations; however, both techniques showed very similar results (r 0.87) and small differences in cumulative fluxes (∼10 %) as long as the upwind terrain was homogeneous and free of nearby obstacles. The observed fluxes varied from ∼-80 to ∼+140 ng NH3 m-2 s-1. Both the absolute flux values and the temporal patterns were highly similar, which substantiates that both instruments were able to measure NH3 fluxes at high temporal resolution. However, for wind directions with obstacles nearby, the correlations between the two techniques were weaker. The uptime of the miniDOAS system reached 100 % once operational, but regular intercalibration of the system was applied in this campaign (35 % of the 7-week uptime). Conversely, the HT8700E did not measure during and shortly after rain, and the coating of its mirrors tended to degrade (21 % data loss during the 5-week uptime). In addition, the NH3 concentrations measured by the HT8700E proved sensitive to air temperature, causing substantial differences (range: -15 to +6 μg m-3) between the two systems. To conclude, the miniDOAS system appears ready for long-term hands-off monitoring. The current HT8700E system, on the other hand, had a limited stand-alone operational time under the prevailing weather conditions. However, under relatively dry and low-dust conditions, the system can provide sound results, opening good prospects for future versions, also for monitoring applications. The new high temporal resolution data from these instruments can facilitate the study of processes behind NH3 dry deposition, allowing an improved understanding of these processes and better parameterisation in chemical transport models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-546
Number of pages18
JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2023


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