Articles | Volume 10, issue 9
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 4187–4206, 2010
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 4187–4206, 2010

  05 May 2010

05 May 2010

NO3 radical measurements in a polluted marine environment: links to ozone formation

R. McLaren1, P. Wojtal1, D. Majonis1, J. McCourt1, J. D. Halla1, and J. Brook2 R. McLaren et al.
  • 1Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry, York University, North York, ON, Canada
  • 2Air Quality Research Division, Environment Canada, Toronto, ON, Canada

Abstract. Nighttime chemistry in polluted regions is dominated by the nitrate radical (NO3) including its direct reaction with natural and anthropogenic hydrocarbons, its reaction with NO2 to form N2O5, and subsequent reactions of N2O5 to form HNO3 and chlorine containing photolabile species. We report nighttime measurements of NO3, NO2, and O3, in the polluted marine boundary layer southwest of Vancouver, BC during a three week study in the summer of 2005. The concentration of N2O5 was calculated using the well known equilibrium, NO3+NO2↔N2O5. Median overnight mixing ratios of NO3, N2O5 and NO2 were 10.3 ppt, 122 ppt and 8.3 ppb with median N2O5/NO3 molar ratios of 13.1 and median nocturnal partitioning of 4.9%. Due to the high levels of NO2 that can inhibit approach to steady-state, we use a method for calculating NO3 lifetimes that does not assume the steady-state approximation. Median and average lifetimes of NO3 in the NO3-N2O5 nighttime reservoir were 1.1–2.3 min. We have determined nocturnal profiles of the pseudo first order loss coefficient of NO3 and the first order loss coefficients of N2O5 by regression of the NO3 inverse lifetimes with the [N2O5]/[NO3] ratio. Direct losses of NO3 are highest early in the night, tapering off as the night proceeds. The magnitude of the first order loss coefficient of N2O5 is consistent with, but not verification of, recommended homogeneous rate coefficients for reaction of N2O5 with water vapor early in the night, but increases significantly in the latter part of the night when relative humidity increases beyond 75%, consistent with heterogeneous reactions of N2O5 with aerosols with a rate constant khet=(1.2±0.4)×10−3 s−1−(1.6±0.4)×10−3 s−1. Analysis indicates that a correlation exists between overnight integrated N2O5 concentrations in the marine boundary layer, a surrogate for the accumulation of chlorine containing photolabile species, and maximum 1-h average O3 at stations in the Lower Fraser Valley the next day when there is clear evidence of a sea breeze transporting marine air into the valley. The range of maximum 1-h average O3 increase attributable to the correlation is ΔO3=+1.1 to +8.3 ppb throughout the study for the average of 20 stations, although higher increases are seen for stations far downwind of the coastal urban area. The correlation is still statistically significant on the second day after a nighttime accumulation, but with a different spatial pattern favouring increased O3 at the coastal urban stations, consistent with transport of polluted air back to the coast.

Final-revised paper