Articles | Volume 14, issue 11
Research article
03 Jun 2014
Research article |  | 03 Jun 2014

Emissions of terpenoids, benzenoids, and other biogenic gas-phase organic compounds from agricultural crops and their potential implications for air quality

D. R. Gentner, E. Ormeño, S. Fares, T. B. Ford, R. Weber, J.-H. Park, J. Brioude, W. M. Angevine, J. F. Karlik, and A. H. Goldstein

Abstract. Agriculture comprises a substantial, and increasing, fraction of land use in many regions of the world. Emissions from agricultural vegetation and other biogenic and anthropogenic sources react in the atmosphere to produce ozone and secondary organic aerosol, which comprises a substantial fraction of particulate matter (PM2.5). Using data from three measurement campaigns, we examine the magnitude and composition of reactive gas-phase organic carbon emissions from agricultural crops and their potential to impact regional air quality relative to anthropogenic emissions from motor vehicles in California's San Joaquin Valley, which is out of compliance with state and federal standards for tropospheric ozone PM2.5. Emission rates for a suite of terpenoid compounds were measured in a greenhouse for 25 representative crops from California in 2008. Ambient measurements of terpenoids and other biogenic compounds in the volatile and intermediate-volatility organic compound ranges were made in the urban area of Bakersfield and over an orange orchard in a rural area of the San Joaquin Valley during two 2010 seasons: summer and spring flowering. We combined measurements from the orchard site with ozone modeling methods to assess the net effect of the orange trees on regional ozone. When accounting for both emissions of reactive precursors and the deposition of ozone to the orchard, the orange trees are a net source of ozone in the springtime during flowering, and relatively neutral for most of the summer until the fall, when it becomes a sink. Flowering was a major emission event and caused a large increase in emissions including a suite of compounds that had not been measured in the atmosphere before. Such biogenic emission events need to be better parameterized in models as they have significant potential to impact regional air quality since emissions increase by several factors to over an order of magnitude. In regions like the San Joaquin Valley, the mass of biogenic emissions from agricultural crops during the summer (without flowering) and the potential ozone and secondary organic aerosol formation from these emissions are on the same order as anthropogenic emissions from motor vehicles and must be considered in air quality models and secondary pollution control strategies.

Final-revised paper