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Correcting high-frequency losses of reactive nitrogen flux measurements

Flux measurements of reactive nitrogen compounds are of increasing importance to assess the impact of unintended emissions on sensitive ecosystems and to evaluate the efficiency of mitigation strategies. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the exchange of reactive nitrogen gases with the highest possible accuracy. This study gives insight into the performance of flux correction methods and their usability for reactive nitrogen gases. The eddy-covariance (EC) technique is today widely used in experimental field studies to measure land surface–atmosphere exchange of a variety of trace gases. In recent years, applying the EC technique to reactive nitrogen compounds has become more important since atmospheric nitrogen deposition influences the productivity and biodiversity of (semi)natural ecosystems and their carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange. Fluxes, which are calculated by EC, have to be corrected for setup-specific effects like attenuation in the high-frequency range. However, common methods for correcting such flux losses are mainly optimized for inert greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane or water vapor. In this study, we applied a selection of correction methods to measurements of total reactive nitrogen (6Nr) conducted in different ecosystems using the Total Reactive Atmospheric Nitrogen Converter (TRANC) coupled to a chemiluminescence detector (CLD). Average flux losses calculated by methods using measured cospectra and ogives were approximately 26 %–38% for a seminatural peatland and about 16 %–22% for a mixed forest. The investigation of the different methods showed that damping factors calculated with measured heat and gas flux cospectra using an empirical spectral transfer function were most reliable. Flux losses of 6Nr with this method were on the upper end of the median damping range, i.e., 38% for the peatland site and 22% for the forest site. Using modified Kaimal cospectra for damping estimation worked well for the forest site but underestimated damping for the peatland site by about 12 %. Correction factors of methods based on power spectra or on site-specific and instrumental parameters were mostly below 10 %. Power spectra of 6Nr were heavily affected – likely by white noise – and deviated substantially at lower frequencies from the respective temperature (power) spectra. Our study supports the use of an empirical method for estimating flux losses of 6Nr or any reactive nitrogen compound and the use of locally measured cospectra.



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