Simultaneous observations of nitrate and peroxy radicals in the marine boundary layer

N. Carslaw, L. J. Carpenter, J. M C Plane, B. J. Allan, R. A. Burgess, K. C. Clemitshaw, H. Coe, S. A. Penkett

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    This paper describes the most extensive set of simultaneous measurements of the concentrations of nitrate (NO3) and peroxy (sum of HO2+RO2, R = alkyl and acyl) radicals to date. The measurements were made in the coastal marine boundary layer over the North Sea, at the Weybourne Atmospheric Observatory on the North Norfolk coast during the spring and autumn of 1994. In spring the average nighttime concentration of NO3 measured by differential optical absorption spectroscopy, was about 10 parts per trillion (ppt) (maximum 25 ppt). The corresponding peroxy radical concentration, measured by the chemical amplifier technique, averaged about 2 ppt (maximum 6 ppt), although this is likely to be an underestimate of the total radical concentration. There is a significant positive correlation between the two sets of radicals, which has not been reported previously. A box model of the marine boundary layer is used to show that this correlation arises from the processing of reactive organic species by NO3. During spring the relatively long lifetime of NO3 (up to 18 min) at night is controlled by reaction with dimethyl sulfide (DMS), and the model predicts significant production of HNO3, methyl tiomethylen (CH3SCH2O2) and other peroxy radicals, HCHO, and eventually sulfate. A nighttime production rate for the hydroxyl (OH) of about 2 x 104 molecules cm-3 s-1 is estimated. During one night in autumn the NO3 lifetime of about 3 min is too short to be explained by reaction with unsaturated hydrocarbons, but is satisfactorily accounted for by the heterogeneous loss of N2O5 on deliquesced aerosols in relatively polluted conditions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)18917-18933
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
    Issue number15
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 1997


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