Articles | Volume 10, issue 6
29 Mar 2010
 | 29 Mar 2010

Uptake of NO3 and N2O5 to Saharan dust, ambient urban aerosol and soot: a relative rate study

M. J. Tang, J. Thieser, G. Schuster, and J. N. Crowley

Abstract. The uptake of NO3 and N2O5 to Saharan dust, ambient aerosols and soot was investigated using a novel and simple relative rate method with simultaneous detection of both NO3 and N2O5. The use of cavity ring down spectroscopy to detect both trace gases enabled the measurements to be carried out at low mixing ratios (<500 pptv or 1×1010 molecule cm−3). The uptake coefficient ratio, γ(NO3)/γ(N2O5), was determined to be 0.9±0.4 for Saharan dust, independent of relative humidity, NO3 or N2O5 mixing ratio and exposure time. Ambient (urban) aerosols showed a very limited capacity to take up N2O5 but were reactive towards NO3 with γ(NO3)/γ(N2O5)>15. A value of γ(NO3)/γ(N2O5)~1.5–3 was obtained when using candle generated soot. The relative rate obtained for Saharan dust can be placed on an absolute basis using our recently determined value of γ(N2O5)=1×10−2 to give γ(NO3)=9×10−3, which is significantly smaller than the single previous value. With the present uptake coefficient, reaction of NO3 with mineral dust will generally not contribute significantly to its NO3 loss in the boundary atmosphere or to the nitration of mineral dust.

Final-revised paper