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A comprehensive organic nitrate chemistry: insights into the lifetime of atmospheric organic nitrates
  • Published Date:
    2018
  • Source:
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 18, 15419–15436
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A comprehensive organic nitrate chemistry: insights into the lifetime of atmospheric organic nitrates
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  • Description:
    Organic nitrate chemistry is the primary control over the lifetime of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in rural and remote continental locations. As NOx emissions decrease, organic nitrate chemistry becomes increasingly important to urban air quality. However, the lifetime of individual organic nitrates and the reactions that lead to their production and removal remain relatively poorly constrained, causing organic nitrates to be poorly represented by models. Guided by recent laboratory and field studies, we developed a detailed gas-phase chemical mechanism representing most of the important individual organic nitrates. We use this mechanism within the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model coupled with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) to describe the role of organic nitrates in nitrogen oxide chemistry and in comparisons to observations. We find the daytime lifetime of total organic nitrates with respect to all loss mechanisms to be 2.6 h in the model. This is consistent with analyses of observations at a rural site in central Alabama during the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS) in summer 2013. The lifetime of the first-generation organic nitrates is ∼2 h versus the 3.2 h lifetime of secondary nitrates produced by oxidation of the first-generation nitrates. The different generations are subject to different losses, with dry deposition to the surface being the dominant loss process for the second-generation organic nitrates and chemical loss being dominant for the first-generation organic nitrates. Removal by hydrolysis is found to be responsible for the loss of ∼30  % of the total organic nitrate pool.
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