Variability in Nocturnal Nitrogen Oxide Processing and Its Role in Regional Air Quality

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Science  06 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5757, pp. 67-70
DOI: 10.1126/science.1120120

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Nitrogen oxides in the lower troposphere catalyze the photochemical production of ozone (O3) pollution during the day but react to form nitric acid, oxidize hydrocarbons, and remove O3 at night. A key nocturnal reaction is the heterogeneous hydrolysis of dinitrogen pentoxide, N2O5. We report aircraft measurements of NO3 and N2O5, which show that the N2O5 uptake coefficient, g(N2O5), on aerosol particles is highly variable and depends strongly on aerosol composition, particularly sulfate content. The results have implications for the quantification of regional-scale O3 production and suggest a stronger interaction between anthropogenic sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions than previously recognized.

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