Atmospheric Acetaldehyde: Importance of Air-Sea Exchange and a Missing Source in the Remote Troposphere.
ABSTRACT: We report airborne measurements of acetaldehyde (CH3CHO) during the first and second deployments of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom). The budget of CH3CHO is examined using the Community Atmospheric Model with chemistry (CAM-chem), with a newly-developed online air-sea exchange module. The upper limit of the global ocean net emission of CH3CHO is estimated to be 34 Tg a-1 (42 Tg a-1 if considering bubble-mediated transfer), and the ocean impacts on tropospheric CH3CHO are mostly confined to the marine boundary layer. Our analysis suggests that there is an unaccounted CH3CHO source in the remote troposphere and that organic aerosols can only provide a fraction of this missing source. We propose that peroxyacetic acid (PAA) is an ideal indicator of the rapid CH3CHO production in the remote troposphere. The higher-than-expected CH3CHO measurements represent a missing sink of hydroxyl radicals (and halogen radical) in current chemistry-climate models.
Project description:Halogens in the troposphere are increasingly recognized as playing an important role for atmospheric chemistry, and possibly climate. Bromine and iodine react catalytically to destroy ozone (O3), oxidize mercury, and modify oxidative capacity that is relevant for the lifetime of greenhouse gases. Most of the tropospheric O3 and methane (CH4) loss occurs at tropical latitudes. Here we report simultaneous measurements of vertical profiles of bromine oxide (BrO) and iodine oxide (IO) in the tropical and subtropical free troposphere (10 °N to 40 °S), and show that these halogens are responsible for 34% of the column-integrated loss of tropospheric O3. The observed BrO concentrations increase strongly with altitude (? 3.4 pptv at 13.5 km), and are 2-4 times higher than predicted in the tropical free troposphere. BrO resembles model predictions more closely in stratospheric air. The largest model low bias is observed in the lower tropical transition layer (TTL) over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, and may reflect a missing inorganic bromine source supplying an additional 2.5-6.4 pptv total inorganic bromine (Bry), or model overestimated Bry wet scavenging. Our results highlight the importance of heterogeneous chemistry on ice clouds, and imply an additional Bry source from the debromination of sea salt residue in the lower TTL. The observed levels of bromine oxidize mercury up to 3.5 times faster than models predict, possibly increasing mercury deposition to the ocean. The halogen-catalyzed loss of tropospheric O3 needs to be considered when estimating past and future ozone radiative effects.
Project description:Organic acids play a key role in the troposphere, contributing to atmospheric aqueous-phase chemistry, aerosol formation, and precipitation acidity. Atmospheric models currently account for less than half the observed, globally averaged formic acid loading. Here we report that acetaldehyde photo-tautomerizes to vinyl alcohol under atmospherically relevant pressures of nitrogen, in the actinic wavelength range, ??=?300-330?nm, with measured quantum yields of 2-25%. Recent theoretical kinetics studies show hydroxyl-initiated oxidation of vinyl alcohol produces formic acid. Adding these pathways to an atmospheric chemistry box model (Master Chemical Mechanism) demonstrates increased formic acid concentrations by a factor of ~1.7 in the polluted troposphere and a factor of ~3 under pristine conditions. Incorporating this mechanism into the GEOS-Chem 3D global chemical transport model reveals an estimated 7% contribution to worldwide formic acid production, with up to 60% of the total modeled formic acid production over oceans arising from photo-tautomerization.
Project description:Atmospheric iodine monoxide (IO) is a radical that catalytically destroys heat trapping ozone and reacts further to form aerosols. Here, we report the detection of IO in the tropical free troposphere (FT). We present vertical profiles from airborne measurements over the Pacific Ocean that show significant IO up to 9.5 km altitude and locate, on average, two-thirds of the total column above the marine boundary layer. IO was observed in both recent deep convective outflow and aged free tropospheric air, suggesting a widespread abundance in the FT over tropical oceans. Our vertical profile measurements imply that most of the IO signal detected by satellites over tropical oceans could originate in the FT, which has implications for our understanding of iodine sources. Surprisingly, the IO concentration remains elevated in a transition layer that is decoupled from the ocean surface. This elevated concentration aloft is difficult to reconcile with our current understanding of iodine lifetimes and may indicate heterogeneous recycling of iodine from aerosols back to the gas phase. Chemical model simulations reveal that the iodine-induced ozone loss occurs mostly above the marine boundary layer (34%), in the transition layer (40%) and FT (26%) and accounts for up to 20% of the overall tropospheric ozone loss rate in the upper FT. Our results suggest that the halogen-driven ozone loss in the FT is currently underestimated. More research is needed to quantify the widespread impact that iodine species of marine origin have on free tropospheric composition, chemistry, and climate.
Project description:Recently, atmospheric ozone pollution has demonstrated an aggravating tendency in China. To date, most research about atmospheric ozone has been confined near the surface, and an understanding of the vertical ozone structure is limited. During the 2016 G20 conference, strict emission control measures were implemented in Hangzhou, a megacity in the Yangtze River Delta, and its surrounding regions. Here, we monitored the vertical profiles of ozone concentration and aerosol extinction coefficients in the lower troposphere using an ozone lidar, in addition to the vertical column densities (VCDs) of ozone and its precursors in the troposphere through satellite-based remote sensing. The ozone concentrations reached a peak near the top of the boundary layer. During the control period, the aerosol extinction coefficients in the lower lidar layer decreased significantly; however, the ozone concentration fluctuated frequently with two pollution episodes and one clean episode. The sensitivity of ozone production was mostly within VOC-limited or transition regimes, but entered a NOx-limited regime due to a substantial decline of NOx during the clean episode. Temporary measures took no immediate effect on ozone pollution in the boundary layer; instead, meteorological conditions like air mass sources and solar radiation intensities dominated the variations in the ozone concentration.
Project description:The hydroxyl radical (OH) fuels tropospheric ozone production and governs the lifetime of methane and many other gases. Existing methods to quantify global OH are limited to annual and global-to-hemispheric averages. Finer resolution is essential for isolating model deficiencies and building process-level understanding. In situ observations from the Atmospheric Tomography (ATom) mission demonstrate that remote tropospheric OH is tightly coupled to the production and loss of formaldehyde (HCHO), a major hydrocarbon oxidation product. Synthesis of this relationship with satellite-based HCHO retrievals and model-derived HCHO loss frequencies yields a map of total-column OH abundance throughout the remote troposphere (up to 70% of tropospheric mass) over the first two ATom missions (August 2016 and February 2017). This dataset offers unique insights on near-global oxidizing capacity. OH exhibits significant seasonality within individual hemispheres, but the domain mean concentration is nearly identical for both seasons (1.03 ± 0.25 × 106 cm-3), and the biseasonal average North/South Hemisphere ratio is 0.89 ± 0.06, consistent with a balance of OH sources and sinks across the remote troposphere. Regional phenomena are also highlighted, such as a 10-fold OH depression in the Tropical West Pacific and enhancements in the East Pacific and South Atlantic. This method is complementary to budget-based global OH constraints and can help elucidate the spatial and temporal variability of OH production and methane loss.
Project description:Bromine atoms play a central role in atmospheric reactive halogen chemistry, depleting ozone and elemental mercury, thereby enhancing deposition of toxic mercury, particularly in the Arctic near-surface troposphere. However, direct bromine atom measurements have been missing to date, due to the lack of analytical capability with sufficient sensitivity for ambient measurements. Here we present direct atmospheric bromine atom measurements, conducted in the springtime Arctic. Measured bromine atom levels reached 14 parts per trillion (ppt, pmol mol-1; 4.2 × 108 atoms per cm-3) and were up to 3-10 times higher than estimates using previous indirect measurements not considering the critical role of molecular bromine. Observed ozone and elemental mercury depletion rates are quantitatively explained by the measured bromine atoms, providing field validation of highly uncertain mercury chemistry. Following complete ozone depletion, elevated bromine concentrations are sustained by photochemical snowpack emissions of molecular bromine and nitrogen oxides, resulting in continued atmospheric mercury depletion. This study provides a breakthrough in quantitatively constraining bromine chemistry in the polar atmosphere, where this chemistry connects the rapidly changing surface to pollutant fate.
Project description:Peroxyl radicals (RO O. ) are key intermediates in atmospheric chemistry, with relatively long lifetimes compared to most other radical species. In this study, we use multireference quantum chemical methods to investigate whether photolysis can compete with well-established RO O. sink reactions. We assume that the photolysis channel is always RO O. + h? => RO + O(3P). Our results show that the maximal value of the cross-section for this channel is ? = 1.3 × 10-18 cm2 at 240 nm for five atmospherically representative peroxyl radicals: CH3O O. , C(O)HCH2O O. , CH3CH2O O. , HC(O)O O. and CH3C(O)O O. . These values agree with experiments to within a factor of 2. The rate constant of photolysis in the troposphere is around 10-5 s-1 for all five RO O. . As the lifetime of peroxyl radicals in the troposphere is typically less than 100 s, photolysis is thus not a competitive process. Furthermore, we investigate whether or not electronic excitation to the first excited state (D1) by infrared radiation can facilitate various H-shift reactions, leading, for example, in the case of CH3O O. to formation of O. H and CH2O or HO O. and CH2 products. While the activation barriers for H-shifts in the D1 state may be lower than in the ground state (D0), we find that H-shifts are unlikely to be competitive with decay back to the D0 state through internal conversion, as this has a rate of the order of 1013 s-1 for all studied systems.
Project description:The composition and prevalence of microorganisms in the middle-to-upper troposphere (8-15 km altitude) and their role in aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions represent important, unresolved questions for biological and atmospheric science. In particular, airborne microorganisms above the oceans remain essentially uncharacterized, as most work to date is restricted to samples taken near the Earth's surface. Here we report on the microbiome of low- and high-altitude air masses sampled onboard the National Aeronautics and Space Administration DC-8 platform during the 2010 Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes campaign in the Caribbean Sea. The samples were collected in cloudy and cloud-free air masses before, during, and after two major tropical hurricanes, Earl and Karl. Quantitative PCR and microscopy revealed that viable bacterial cells represented on average around 20% of the total particles in the 0.25- to 1-?m diameter range and were at least an order of magnitude more abundant than fungal cells, suggesting that bacteria represent an important and underestimated fraction of micrometer-sized atmospheric aerosols. The samples from the two hurricanes were characterized by significantly different bacterial communities, revealing that hurricanes aerosolize a large amount of new cells. Nonetheless, 17 bacterial taxa, including taxa that are known to use C1-C4 carbon compounds present in the atmosphere, were found in all samples, indicating that these organisms possess traits that allow survival in the troposphere. The findings presented here suggest that the microbiome is a dynamic and underappreciated aspect of the upper troposphere with potentially important impacts on the hydrological cycle, clouds, and climate.
Project description:Understanding new particle formation and their subsequent growth in the troposphere has a critical impact on our ability to predict atmospheric composition and global climate change. High pre-existing particle loadings have been thought to suppress the formation of new atmospheric aerosol particles due to high condensation and coagulation sinks. Here, based on field measurements at a mountain site in South China, we report, for the first time, in situ observational evidence on new particle formation and growth in remote ambient atmosphere during heavy dust episodes mixed with anthropogenic pollution. Both the formation and growth rates of particles in the diameter range 15-50 nm were enhanced during the dust episodes, indicating the influence of photo-induced, dust surface-mediated reactions and resulting condensable vapor production. This study provides unique in situ observations of heterogeneous photochemical processes inducing new particle formation and growth in the real atmosphere, and suggests an unexpected impact of mineral dust on climate and atmospheric chemistry.
Project description:During polar springtime, active bromine drives ozone, a greenhouse gas, to near-zero levels. Bromine production and emission in the polar regions have so far been assumed to require sunlight. Here, we report measurements of bromocarbons in sea ice, snow, and air during the Antarctic winter that reveal an unexpected new source of organic bromine to the atmosphere during periods of no sunlight. The results show that Antarctic winter sea ice provides 10 times more bromocarbons to the atmosphere than Southern Ocean waters, and substantially more than summer sea ice. The inclusion of these measurements in a global climate model indicates that the emitted bromocarbons will disperse throughout the troposphere in the southern hemisphere and through photochemical degradation to bromine atoms, contribute ~?10% to the tropospheric reactive bromine budget. Combined together, our results suggest that winter sea ice could potentially be an important source of atmospheric bromine with implications for atmospheric chemistry and climate at a hemispheric scale.