Taina Ruuskanen has been working on measuring biosphere-atmosphere exchange of volatile organic compounds (VOC) for years. Originally, emissions were measured in little chambers with just one twig of a tree inside; but because VOCs participate in many chemical processes in the atmosphere and, especially, make tiny aerosol particles grow to climatically important sizes and into cloud droplets, it soon became evident that a more continuous and comprehensive observation technique is necessary. During her post-doc at the University of Innsbruck in Austria Taina worked with instrument manufacturers trying to get a new device, PTR-ToF (Proton Transfer Reaction – Time of Flight mass spectrometer) function online with an eddy covariance system. This would allow the instantaneous and continuous observation of VOC fluxes between vegetation and the atmosphere. Taina and her group have spent the last year trying to
make the measurement work in Hyytiälä, and this autumn they finally got good results. “Our preliminary results show that the flux method really works and I’m exited to dig out seasonal changes in the forest-atmosphere exchange of organic compounds from our one-year dataset!”, Taina says.
Ruuskanen et al., 2011, www.atmos-chem-phys.net/11/611/2011/ . Top: PTR-ToF in Hyytiälä for the first time; photo by Simon Schallhart. Bottom: Taina Ruuskanen in pensive mode.