12th Conference on Mountain Meteorology


A Regional Atmospheric Continuous CO2 Observing Network in the Rocky Mountains (Rocky RACCOON)

Britton Stephens, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and S. F. J. De Wekker, D. Schimel, and A. Watt

We are establishing a continuous CO2 observing network in the Rocky Mountains, building on technological and modeling advances made during the Carbon in the Mountains Experiment (CME), to improve our understanding of regional carbon fluxes and to fill key gaps in the North American Carbon Program (NACP). We will present a description of the Rocky RACCOON network and early results from the first three sites.

There are strong scientific and societal motivations for determining CO2 exchanges on regional scales. NACP aims to address these concerns through a dramatic expansion in observations and modeling capabilities over North America. Mountain forests in particular represent a significant potential net CO2 sink in the U.S. and are highly sensitive to land-use practices and climate change. However, plans for new continuous CO2 observing sites have omitted the Rocky Mountain West. This resulted from expensive instrumentation in the face of limited resources, and a perception that current atmospheric transport models are not sophisticated enough to interpret CO2 measurements made in complex terrain. Through our efforts in CME, we have a new autonomous, inexpensive, and robust CO2 analysis system and are developing mountain CO2 modeling tools that will help us to overcome these obstacles.

Preliminary observational and modeling results give us confidence that continuous CO2 observations from mountain top observatories will provide constraints on regional carbon cycling and will be useful in the continental inverse modeling efforts planned for NACP. We are beginning at three Colorado sites in 2005 and hope to add five to seven sites in other Rocky Mountain states in subsequent years, utilizing existing observatories to the maximum extent possible. The first three sites will be at Niwot Ridge, allowing us to have an ongoing intercomparison with flask measurements made by NOAA CMDL, at Storm Peak Laboratory near Steamboat Springs, allowing us to investigate comparisons between these two relatively nearby sites, and at Fraser Experimental Forest, allowing us to investigate nocturnal respiration rates across a large intermountain valley. Our data will be available to the public on the internet in near real time to support quality control, local science, and larger scale synthesis efforts.

Poster Session 3, Forecasting, Climate and Air Quality
Thursday, 31 August 2006, 2:30 PM-4:00 PM, Ballroom North

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