Aircraft measurements of the concentrations of CO2, CH4, N2O, and CO and the carbon and oxygen isotopic ratios of CO2 in the troposphere over Russia


  • Takakiyo Nakazawa,

  • Satoshi Sugawara,

  • Gen Inoue,

  • Toshinobu Machida,

  • Shamil Makshyutov,

  • Hitoshi Mukai


About 370 air samples were collected using aircraft in the troposphere over Russia in the summers of 1992, 1993, and 1994. These were then analyzed for the CO2, CH4, N2O and CO concentrations, as well as for δ13C and δ18O of CO2. Measured vertical profiles of tropospheric CO2 showed that the concentration increased with height over all locations. In the lower troposphere over the wetland and taiga regions, extremely low CO2 concentrations of 335–345 parts per million by volume (ppmv) were often observed. Measured values of δ13C and the CO2 concentration were negatively correlated with each other, the rate of change in δ13C with respect to the CO2 concentration being about −0.05‰/ppmv. This implies that the variations in the CO2 concentration observed over Russia in the summer are primarily caused by terrestrial biospheric activities. In the middle and upper troposphere, the CO2 concentration and δ13C showed systematic differences between each other in 1992, 1993, and 1994, probably due to their secular changes. The δ18O and CO2 observed in the lowest part of the troposphere over east and west Siberia were also negatively correlated with each other, with the rate of change in δ18O with respect to CO2 estimated to be about −0.1 l‰/ppmv. This relation may be caused by isotopic equilibrium of oxygen in CO2 with soil water through respiration of living plants and decomposition of organic matter and with chloroplast water in leaves through photosynthesis of living plants. In contrast to CO2, the CH4 concentration decreased with height. Extremely high CH4 concentrations were observed over the west Siberian lowland, owing to a large amount of CH4 emitted from wetlands. The N2O concentrations were fairly constant through the troposphere over all locations covered by this study, with an average value of about 311 parts per billion by volume (ppbv). The CO concentrations also showed vertical profiles, with a small gradient over natural wetlands, taiga, and tundra. High values of the CH4, CO, and CO2 concentrations were observed over Moscow, owing to emissions of the respective gases by human activities in an urban area. It was also found that over natural wetlands and tundra the CO2 and CH4 concentrations were negatively correlated with each other, reflecting a strong biospheric CO2 uptake and CH4 emissions from wetlands. The relationship between the CH4 and CO concentrations was strongly positive over areas with their anthropogenic and natural sources; the relationship was only slightly positive over wetlands, possibly due to CO emissions from wetlands and/or photochemically produced CO.