Spectronus™ sets sail on summer Antarctica research expeditions

19 Dec 2018

The Aurora Australis in Hobart prior its departure to Antarctica, carrying out research into atmospheric aerosols and greenhouse gases.

The Acoem Spectronus™ greenhouse & trace gas analyser is an integral part of an Australian multi-university research project to study how aerosol gases form in clean atmospheres.

Beginning in November 2018, the Spectronus TM – the first multispecies greenhouse and other trace gases analyser – will be on board Australia’s Antarctic icebreaker, the Aurora Australis, as it cruises the Southern Ocean from Hobart to various Antarctic and sub-Antarctic stations.

Over four voyages throughout the summer, research equipment housed in a purpose-built “AIRBOX” will be on the Aurora Australis measuring and providing data on aerosol gases. The SpectronusTM will be specifically measuring small variations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and carbon monoxide (CO) during latitudinal changes as the ship sails.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) funded the instrumented atmospheric chemistry container “AIRBOX”, and has funded a multi-university research grant to conduct a study focused on aerosol formation, and the mechanism of how these gases form in clean atmospheres in the Antarctic region. The research, led by Dr Robyn Schofield, from the University of Melbourne, is being conducted in association with the University of Wollongong and other academic partners.

Investing in research to solve environmental problems

Designed and created by Prof. David Griffith from the University of Wollongong’s School of Chemistry & Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry, SpectronusTM is the result of more than two decades of research. It is manufactured under an exclusive licence by Acoem Australasia and continues to evolve and be upgraded with expert guidance and input from Prof. Griffith, who also provides ongoing technical support for customers.

Based on Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), the SpectronusTM is the only analyser with the ability to quantify real-time measurements of multiple gases and isotopes simultaneously, within the single instrument.

It has been adopted by research scientists, universities and government-funded agencies around the world for its precision and holistic approach, revolutionising the way that greenhouse and trace gases are analysed both in the field and in the laboratory.

Prof. David Griffith installing the SpectronusTM aboard the Aurora Australis.

“Precision monitoring instruments like SpectronusTM play a significant role in the success of research projects like this,” said Prof. David Griffith. “Acoem Australasia’s involvement and ongoing collaboration with the scientific community helps us identify and make a positive contribution towards solving environmental problems,” he added.

SpectronusTM has been utilised in a number of other pioneering maritime and ship-based environmental studies, including:

  • providing data on CO2levels during a 2014 circumnavigation of Australia;
  • an aerosol study of the Daintree River region of Queensland in 2016, and
  • a short campaign earlier this year by the Royal Australian Navy to study aerosol formation around Garden Island, in Western Australia to assist with visibility for submarines.

“Spectronus’TM latest expedition is another example of the close relationship that Acoem shares with the academic and research sector,” commented Felicity Sharp, Country Operating Officer, Acoem UK. “We recognise the importance of participating in ongoing research and welcome the opportunity to support Prof. Griffith and his team at the University of Wollongong,” she added.

Acoem Australasia’s monitoring suite, providing global solutions

This is not the first time that Acoem instruments have been used during maritime expeditions to study atmospheric and environmental conditions. In 2017, Acoem Australasia was proud to partner with some of the world’s most respected environmental research institutions to study air quality and climate change on the 40-day AQABA expedition around the Arabian Peninsula.

Acoem Australasia supplied the expedition with its Aurora 3000 multi-wavelength integrating nephelometer, the Serinus 60 direct nitrogen dioxide analyser and its next generation Congrego® data logger.

Acoem monitoring equipment collected data on the chemical composition of the atmosphere and supported ongoing gas-aerosol interaction research and studies on the atmospheric chemistry of dust, sea salt, and other natural emissions’ interactions with air pollution.



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