Chlorine-hydrocarbon photochemistry in the marine troposphere and lower stratosphere

H. B. Singh, James Kasting

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A one-dimensional photochemical model was used to explore the role of chlorine atoms in oxidizing methane and other nonmethane hydrocarbons (NMHCs) in the marine troposphere and lower stratosphere. Where appropriate, the model predictions were compared with available measurements. Cl atoms are predicted to be present in the marine troposphere at concentrations of approximately 103 cm-3, mostly as a consequence of the reaction of OH with HCl released from sea spray. Despite this low abundance, our results indicate that 20 to 40% of NMHC oxidation in the troposphere (0-10 km) and 40 to 90% of NMHC oxidation in the lower stratosphere (10-20 km) is caused by Cl atoms. At 15 km, NMHC-Cl reactions account for nearly 80% of the PAN produced. The model was also used to test the longstanding hypothesis that NOCl is an intermediate to HCl formation from sea salt aerosols. It was found that the NOCl concentration required (∼10 ppt) would be incompatible with field observations of reactive nitrogen and ozone abundance. Chlorine nitrate (ClONO2) and methyl nitrate (CH3ONO2) were shown to be minor components of the total NOy abundance. Heterogeneous reactions that might enhance photolysis of halocarbons or convert ClONO2 to HOCl or Cl2 were determined to be relatively unimportant sources of Cl atoms. Specific and reliable measurements of HCl and other reactive chlorine species are needed to better assess their role in tropospheric chemistry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-285
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Atmospheric Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 1988

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Atmospheric Science


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