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.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jun 4 2019|
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