The lifetime of nitrogen oxides (NOx) affects the concentration and distribution of NOx and the spatial patterns of nitrogen deposition. Despite its importance, the lifetime of NOx is poorly constrained in rural and remote continental regions. We use measurements from a site in central Alabama during the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS) in summer 2013 to provide new insights into the chemistry of NOx and NOx reservoirs. We find that the lifetime of NOx during the daytime is controlled primarily by the production and loss of alkyl and multifunctional nitrates (ΣANs). During SOAS, ΣAN production was rapid, averaging 90ppth-1 during the day, and occurred predominantly during isoprene oxidation. Analysis of the ΣAN and HNO3 budgets indicate that ΣANs have an average lifetime of under 2h, and that approximately 45% of the ΣANs produced at this site are rapidly hydrolyzed to produce nitric acid. We find that ΣAN hydrolysis is the largest source of HNO3 and the primary pathway to permanent removal of NOx from the boundary layer in this location. Using these new constraints on the fate of ΣANs, we find that the NOx lifetime is 11 ± 5h under typical midday conditions. The lifetime is extended by storage of NOx in temporary reservoirs, including acyl peroxy nitrates and ΣANs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science