Measurements of OVOC fluxes by eddy covariance using a proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometer – method development at a coastal site
Abstract. We present here vertical fluxes of oxygenated volatile organic compounds (OVOCs) measured with eddy covariance (EC) during the period of March to July 2012 near the southwest coast of the United Kingdom. The performance of the proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometer (PTR-MS) for flux measurement is characterized, with additional considerations given to the homogeneity and stationarity assumptions required by EC. Observed mixing ratios and fluxes of OVOCs (specifically methanol, acetaldehyde, and acetone) vary significantly with time of day and wind direction. Higher mixing ratios and fluxes of acetaldehyde and acetone are found in the daytime and from the direction of a forested park, most likely due to light-driven emissions from terrestrial plants. Methanol mixing ratio and flux do not demonstrate consistent diel variability, suggesting sources in addition to plants. We estimate air–sea exchange and photochemical rates of these compounds, which are compared to measured vertical fluxes. For acetaldehyde, the mean (1σ) mixing ratio of 0.13 (0.02) ppb at night may be maintained by oceanic emission, while photochemical destruction outpaces production during the day. Air–sea exchange and photochemistry are probably net sinks of methanol and acetone in this region. Their nighttime mixing ratios of 0.46 (0.20) and 0.39 (0.08) ppb appear to be affected more by terrestrial emissions and long-distance transport, respectively.