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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-925
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-925
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  06 Nov 2019

06 Nov 2019

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Impact of atomic chlorine on the modelling of total methane and its 13C : 12C isotopic ratio at global scale

Joël Thanwerdas1, Marielle Saunois1, Antoine Berchet1, Isabelle Pison1, Didier Hauglustaine1, Michel Ramonet1, Cyril Crevoisier2, Bianca Baier3,4, Colm Sweeney4, and Philippe Bousquet1 Joël Thanwerdas et al.
  • 1Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, IPSL, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 2Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, École Polytechnique, IPSL, Palaiseau, France
  • 3Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA 80305
  • 4NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Global Monitoring Division, Boulder, CO, USA 80305

Abstract. Methane (CH4) is the second strongest anthropogenic greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2) and is responsible for about 20 % of the warming induced by long-lived greenhouse gases since pre-industrial times. Oxidation by the hydroxyl radical (OH) is the dominant atmospheric sink for methane, contributing to approximately 90 % of the total methane loss. Chemical losses by reaction with atomic oxygen (O1D) and chlorine radicals (Cl) in the stratosphere are other sinks, contributing about 3 % to the total methane destruction. Moreover, the reaction with Cl is very fractionating, thus it has a much larger impact on δ13C-CH4 than the reaction with OH. In this paper, we assess the impact of atomic Cl on atmospheric methane mixing ratios, methane atmospheric loss and atmospheric δ13C-CH4. The offline version of the Global Circulation Model (GCM) LMDz, coupled to a chemistry module including the major methane chemical reactions, is run to simulate CH4 concentrations and δ13C-CH4 at the global scale. Atmospheric methane sink by Cl atoms in the stratosphere is found to be 7.32 ± 0.16 Tg/yr. Methane observations from vertical profiles obtained using AirCore samplers above 11 different locations across the globe and balloon measurements of δ13C-CH4 and methane are used to assess the impact of the Cl sink in the chemistry transport model. Above 10 km, the presence of Cl in the model is found to have only a small impact on the vertical profile of total methane but a major influence on δ13C-CH4 values, significantly improving the agreement between simulations and available observations. Stratospheric Cl is also found to have a substantial impact on surface δ13C-CH4 values, leading to a difference of +0.27 ‰ (less negative values) after a 19-year run. As a result, this study suggests that the Cl sink needs to be properly taken into account (magnitude and trends) in order to better understand trends in the atmospheric δ13C-CH4 signal when using atmospheric chemistry transport models for forward or inverse calculations.

Joël Thanwerdas et al.

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Short summary
Oxidation by the hydroxyl radical (OH) is the dominant atmospheric sink for methane, contributing to approximately 90 % of the total methane loss. Chemical losses by reaction with atomic oxygen (O1D) and chlorine radicals (Cl) in the stratosphere are other sinks, contributing about 3 % to the total methane destruction. We assess here the impact of atomic Cl on atmospheric methane mixing ratios, methane atmospheric loss and atmospheric isotopic δ13C-CH4 values.
Oxidation by the hydroxyl radical (OH) is the dominant atmospheric sink for methane,...
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