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Atmospheric Hydroxyl Radical Production from Electronically Excited NO2 and H2O

Science  21 Mar 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5870, pp. 1657-1660
DOI: 10.1126/science.1151443

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Abstract

Hydroxyl radicals are often called the “detergent” of the atmosphere because they control the atmosphere's capacity to cleanse itself of pollutants. Here, we show that the reaction of electronically excited nitrogen dioxide with water can be an important source of tropospheric hydroxyl radicals. Using measured rate data, along with available solar flux and atmospheric mixing ratios, we demonstrate that the tropospheric hydroxyl contribution from this source can be a substantial fraction (50%) of that from the traditional O(1D) + H2O reaction in the boundary-layer region for high solar zenith angles. Inclusion of this chemistry is expected to affect modeling of urban air quality, where the interactions of sunlight with emitted NOx species, volatile organic compounds, and hydroxyl radicals are central in determining the rate of ozone formation.

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