Nitrogen Dioxide in the Stratosphere and Troposphere Measured by Ground-Based Absorption Spectroscopy

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Science  15 Aug 1975:
Vol. 189, Issue 4202, pp. 547-549
DOI: 10.1126/science.189.4202.547


The NO2 abundance in the stratosphere has been determined from ground-based spectra of the rising and setting sun and moon and of the twilight sky near 4500 angstroms. The spectra were taken at the Fritz Peak Observatory, at an altitude of 3 kilometers in the Colorado mountains. Separation of the stratospheric contribution requires observations at a relatively unpolluted site; direct measurement of the tropospheric absorption in the Colorado mountains often yields an upper limit on the tropospheric mixing ratio of 0.1 part per billion. The stratospheric NO2 abundance is two to three times greater at night than during the day and increases significantly during the course of a sunlit day; these changes are related to photolytic decomposition of NO2 and N2O5 in the daytime stratosphere. Absorption by NO3 was sought but not found; the results set an upper limit of 2 percent on the nighttime abundance ratio of NO3 to NO2 in the stratosphere.