Articles | Volume 7, issue 3
22 Feb 2007
22 Feb 2007

Mirror image hydrocarbons from Tropical and Boreal forests

J. Williams, N. Yassaa, S. Bartenbach, and J. Lelieveld

Abstract. Monoterpenes, emitted in large quantities by trees to attract pollinators and repel herbivores, can exist in mirror image forms called enantiomers. In this study such enantiomeric pairs have been measured in ambient air over extensive forest ecosystems in South America and northern Europe. For the dominant monoterpene, α-pinene, the (−)-form was measured in large excess over the (+)-form over the Tropical rainforest, whereas the reverse was observed over the Boreal forest. Interestingly, over the Tropical forest (−)-α-pinene did not correlate with its own enantiomer, but correlated well with isoprene. The results indicate a remarkable ecosystem scale enantiomeric fingerprint and a nexus between the biosphere and atmosphere.

Final-revised paper