Articles | Volume 16, issue 17
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 10965–10984, 2016
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 10965–10984, 2016

Research article 06 Sep 2016

Research article | 06 Sep 2016

Atmospheric mixing ratios of methyl ethyl ketone (2-butanone) in tropical, boreal, temperate and marine environments

A. M. Yáñez-Serrano1,2,a, A. C. Nölscher1,b, E. Bourtsoukidis1, B. Derstroff1, N. Zannoni3, V. Gros3, M. Lanza4, J. Brito5, S. M. Noe6, E. House7, C. N. Hewitt7, B. Langford8, E. Nemitz8, T. Behrendt1,c, J. Williams1, P. Artaxo5, M. O. Andreae1,9, and J. Kesselmeier1 A. M. Yáñez-Serrano et al.
  • 1Biogeochemistry and Air Chemistry Departments, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, P.O. Box 3060, 55020 Mainz, Germany
  • 2Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA), Av. André Araújo 2936, Manaus-AM, 69083-000, Brazil
  • 3Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 4IONICON Analytik GmbH, Eduard-Bodem-Gasse 3, 6020, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 5Instituto de Física, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Rua do Matão, Travessa R, 187, CEP 05508-900, São Paulo-SP, Brazil
  • 6Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Kreutzwaldi 1, 51014 Tartu, Estonia
  • 7Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ, UK
  • 8Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Penicuik, EH26 0QB, UK
  • 9Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
  • anow at: Department of Ecosystem Physiology, University of Freiburg, 79085 Freiburg, Germany
  • bnow at: Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
  • cnow at: Department of Biogeochemical Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Hans-Knöll-Str. 10, 07745 Jena, Germany

Abstract. Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) enters the atmosphere following direct emission from vegetation and anthropogenic activities, as well as being produced by the gas-phase oxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as n-butane. This study presents the first overview of ambient MEK measurements at six different locations, characteristic of forested, urban and marine environments. In order to understand better the occurrence and behaviour of MEK in the atmosphere, we analyse diel cycles of MEK mixing ratios, vertical profiles, ecosystem flux data, and HYSPLIT back trajectories, and compare with co-measured VOCs. MEK measurements were primarily conducted with proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometer (PTR-MS) instruments. Results from the sites under biogenic influence demonstrate that vegetation is an important source of MEK. The diel cycle of MEK follows that of ambient temperature and the forest structure plays an important role in air mixing. At such sites, a high correlation of MEK with acetone was observed (e.g. r2 = 0.96 for the SMEAR Estonia site in a remote hemiboreal forest in Tartumaa, Estonia, and r2 = 0.89 at the ATTO pristine tropical rainforest site in central Amazonia). Under polluted conditions, we observed strongly enhanced MEK mixing ratios. Overall, the MEK mixing ratios and flux data presented here indicate that both biogenic and anthropogenic sources contribute to its occurrence in the global atmosphere.

Short summary
This paper provides a general overview of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) ambient observations in different ecosystems around the world in order to provide insights into the sources, sink and role of MEK in the atmosphere.
Final-revised paper