1Institut für Umweltphysik, Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
2Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
*now at: University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
**now at: Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany
***now at: Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
Abstract. The direct detection of glyoxal (CHOCHO), the smallest α-dicarbonyl, in the open atmosphere by active differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) has recently been demonstrated (Volkamer et al., 2005a) and triggered the very recent successful detection of CHOCHO from space (Kurosu et al., 2005; Wittrock et al., 2006; Beirle et al., 2006). Here we report the first comprehensive analysis of CHOCHO by passive multi axis differential optical absorption spectroscopy (MAX-DOAS). CHOCHO and NO2 slant column measurements were conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA, and on board the research vessel Ron Brown in the Gulf of Maine as part of the International Consortium for Atmospheric Research on Transport and Transformation (ICARTT) 2004 campaign. For a day with nearly clear sky conditions, radiative transfer modeling was employed to derive diurnal CHOCHO mixing ratios in the planetary boundary layer (PBL) for both sites. CHOCHO mixing ratios at MIT varied from 40 to 140 ppt, with peak values observed around noon. Mixing ratios over the Gulf of Maine were found to be up to 2.5 times larger than at MIT. The CHOCHO-to-NO2 ratio at MIT was <0.03, and enhancements of this ratio by up to two orders of magnitude were found over the Gulf of Maine. This paper focuses on the methodological aspects involved with MAX-DOAS measurements of CHOCHO.