Articles | Volume 10, issue 12
16 Jun 2010
 | 16 Jun 2010

Measurements of volatile organic compounds over West Africa

J. G. Murphy, D. E. Oram, and C. E. Reeves

Abstract. In this paper we describe measurements of volatile organic compounds (VOC) made using a Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometer (PTR-MS) aboard the UK Facility for Atmospheric Airborne Measurements during the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (AMMA) campaign. Observations were made during approximately 85 h of flying time between 17 July and 17 August 2006, above an area between 4° N and 18° N and 3° W and 4° E, encompassing ocean, mosaic forest, and the Sahel desert. High time resolution observations of counts at mass to charge (m/z) ratios of 42, 59, 69, 71, and 79 were used to calculate mixing ratios of acetonitrile, acetone, isoprene, the sum of methyl vinyl ketone and methacrolein, and benzene respectively using laboratory-derived humidity-dependent calibration factors. Strong spatial associations between vegetation and isoprene and its oxidation products were observed in the boundary layer, consistent with biogenic emissions followed by rapid atmospheric oxidation. Acetonitrile, benzene, and acetone were all enhanced in airmasses which had been heavily influenced by biomass burning. Benzene and acetone were also elevated in airmasses with urban influence from cities such as Lagos, Cotonou, and Niamey. The observations provide evidence that both deep convection and mixing associated with fair-weather cumulus were responsible for vertical redistribution of VOC emitted from the surface. Profiles over the ocean showed a depletion of acetone in the marine boundary layer, but no significant decrease for acetonitrile.

Final-revised paper