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High concentrations and photochemical fate of oxygenated hydrocarbons in the global troposphere

Nature volume 378, pages 5054 (02 November 1995) | Download Citation

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Abstract

OXYGENATED species in the atmosphere are important sources of free radicals and are intricately linked with the fate of nitrogen oxides (NO x ), which are themselves necessary for tropospheric ozone formation1,2. With the exception of formaldehyde, oxygenated hydrocarbons have rarely been measured in the free troposphere. Here we report airborne measurements indicating the presence of high concentrations (compared to those of routinely measured C2–C6 tropospheric hydrocarbons3,4) of acetone and methanol. We use a three-dimensional model to show that acetone photochemistry provides a quantitatively significant (up to 50%) pathway for sequestering NO x in the form of peroxyacetylnitrate, a relatively unreactive temporary reservoir of NO x . Furthermore, in the dry regions of the upper troposphere, acetone can provide a large primary source of HOx (OH + HO2) radicals, resulting in increased ozone production. This surprisingly significant contribution of such oxygenated hydrocarbons to tropospheric NOx, HO x and ozone cycling is likely to be affected by their changing natural and anthropogenic emissions due to land-use change, biomass burning and alcohol-based biofuel use.

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Affiliations

  1. NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, USA

    • Hanwant B. Singh
  2. Centre des Faibles Radioactivites, CNRS-CEA, F-91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France

    • M. Kanakidou
  3. Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, D-55020 Mainz, Germany

    • P. J. Crutzen
  4. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • D. J. Jacob

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https://doi.org/10.1038/378050a0

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