Observations of the nitrate radical in the marine boundary layer

B. J. Allan, N. Carslaw, H. Coe, R. A. Burgess, J. M C Plane

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A study of the nitrate radical (NO3) has been conducted through a series of campaigns held at the Weybourne Atmospheric Observatory, located on the coast of north Norfolk, England. The NO3 concentration was measured in the lower boundary layer by the technique of differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS). Although the set of observations is limited, seasonal patterns are apparent. In winter, the NO3 concentration in semi-polluted continental air masses was found to be of the order of 10 ppt with an average turnover lifetime of 2.4 minutes. During summer in clean northerly air flows, the concentration was about 6 ppt with a lifetime of 7.2 minutes. The major loss mechanisms for the radical were investigated in some detail by employing a chemical box model, constrained by a suite of ancillary measurements. The model indicates that during the semi-polluted conditions experienced in winter, the major loss of NO3 occurred indirectly through reactions of N2O5, either in the gas-phase with H2O, or through uptake on aerosols. The most important direct loss was via reactions of NO3 with a number of unsaturated nonmethane hydrocarbons. The cleaner air masses observed during the summer were of marine origin and contained elevated concentrations of dimethyl sulfide (DMS), which provided the major loss route for NO3. The box model was then used to investigate the conditions in the remote marine boundary layer under which DMS) will be oxidised more rapidly at night (by NO3) than during the day (by OH). This should occur if the concentration of NO2 is more than about 60% that of DMS.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)129-154
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Atmospheric Chemistry
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


    • Dimethyl sulphide
    • DOAS
    • Night-time chemistry
    • Nitrate radical


    Dive into the research topics of 'Observations of the nitrate radical in the marine boundary layer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this