Faculty Publications

Title

Sources and cycling of tropospheric hydroxyl radicals - An overview

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Yasin F. Elshorbany

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

ISSN

0942-9352

Abstract

The hydroxyl radical is the principal oxidizing agent in the troposphere It controls and determines the oxidizing power of the atmosphere and thus governs the atmospheric lifetime of many species and their potential to contribute to climate change air pollution and ozone formation Owing to the development of new measurement techniques and the discovery of new reaction mechanisms the understanding of the OH chemistry has witnessed significant advances during the last decades This article presents a comprehensive review of the current understanding of OH radical chemistry with an outlook to future work in this active research area of atmospheric chemistry

Among the different OH radical initiation sources e g O-3 photolysis HCHO photolysis ozonolysis of alkenes and the photolysis of nitrous acid (HONO), the latter has been shown in recent field and model studies to make a major contribution to tropospheric OH levels New photochemical sources of HONO have been discovered in the laboratory which can explain unexpectedly high concentrations of HONO observed in the atmosphere during daytime A detailed analysis of HONO sources in the atmosphere is presented OH radicals react with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a complex cycle regenerating OH radicals in the propagation cycle Recent field and model studies show that the OH radical propagation cycle is balanced for high NOx conditions Thus radical losses by reactions with VOCs are balanced by OH formation through the reaction HO2+NO However studies at low NO and high VOC levels imply that unknown radical sources of OH exist in rural and forested areas Possible sources of OH radicals under these conditions are discussed.

Publisher

Walter de Gruyter GMBH

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