Articles | Volume 11, issue 21
Research article
03 Nov 2011
Research article |  | 03 Nov 2011

Variable lifetimes and loss mechanisms for NO3 and N2O5 during the DOMINO campaign: contrasts between marine, urban and continental air

J. N. Crowley, J. Thieser, M. J. Tang, G. Schuster, H. Bozem, Z. H. Beygi, H. Fischer, J.-M. Diesch, F. Drewnick, S. Borrmann, W. Song, N. Yassaa, J. Williams, D. Pöhler, U. Platt, and J. Lelieveld

Abstract. Nighttime mixing ratios of boundary layer N2O5 were determined using cavity-ring-down spectroscopy during the DOMINO campaign in Southern Spain (Diel Oxidant Mechanisms In relation to Nitrogen Oxides, 21 November 2008–8 December 2008). N2O5 mixing ratios ranged from below the detection limit (~5 ppt) to ~500 ppt. A steady-state analysis constrained by measured mixing ratios of N2O5, NO2 and O3 was used to derive NO3 lifetimes and compare them to calculated rates of loss via gas-phase and heterogeneous reactions of both NO3 and N2O5. Three distinct types of air masses were encountered, which were largely marine (Atlantic), continental or urban-industrial in origin. NO3 lifetimes were longest in the Atlantic sector (up to ~30 min) but were very short (a few seconds) in polluted, air masses from the local city and petroleum-related industrial complex of Huelva. Air from the continental sector was an intermediate case. The high reactivity to NO3 of the urban air mass was not accounted for by gas-phase and heterogeneous reactions, rates of which were constrained by measurements of NO, volatile organic species and aerosol surface area. In general, high NO2 mixing ratios were associated with low NO3 lifetimes, though heterogeneous processes (e.g. reaction of N2O5 on aerosol) were generally less important than direct gas-phase losses of NO3. The presence of SO2 at levels above ~2 ppb in the urban air sector was always associated with very low N2O5 mixing ratios indicating either very short NO3 lifetimes in the presence of combustion-related emissions or an important role for reduced sulphur species in urban, nighttime chemistry. High production rates coupled with low lifetimes of NO3 imply an important contribution of nighttime chemistry to removal of both NOx and VOC.

Final-revised paper