Mass-Independent Oxygen Isotope Fractionation in Atmospheric CO as a Result of the Reaction CO + OH

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Science  24 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5376, pp. 544-546
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5376.544

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Atmospheric carbon monoxide (CO) exhibits mass-independent fractionation in the oxygen isotopes. An 17O excess up to 7.5 per mil was observed in summer at high northern latitudes. The major source of this puzzling fractionation in this important trace gas is its dominant atmospheric removal reaction, CO + OH → CO2 + H, in which the surviving CO gains excess17O. The occurrence of mass-independent fractionation in the reaction of CO with OH raises fundamental questions about kinetic processes. At the same time the effect is a useful marker for the degree to which CO in the atmosphere has been reacting with OH.

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