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Amplified Trace Gas Removal in the Troposphere

Science  26 Jun 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5935, pp. 1702-1704
DOI: 10.1126/science.1164566

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Abstract

The degradation of trace gases and pollutants in the troposphere is dominated by their reaction with hydroxyl radicals (OH). The importance of OH rests on its high reactivity, its ubiquitous photochemical production in the sunlit atmosphere, and most importantly on its regeneration in the oxidation chain of the trace gases. In the current understanding, the recycling of OH proceeds through HO2 reacting with NO, thereby forming ozone. A recent field campaign in the Pearl River Delta, China, quantified tropospheric OH and HO2 concentrations and turnover rates by direct measurements. We report that concentrations of OH were three to five times greater than expected, and we propose the existence of a pathway for the regeneration of OH independent of NO, which amplifies the degradation of pollutants without producing ozone.

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