1College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, China
2Institut für Energie und Klimaforschung: Troposphäre, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, Germany
3Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academic Sinica, Taipei, China
4Faculty of Science, Ibaraki University, Ibaraki, Japan
5University of Tokyo, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, Tokyo, Japan
6School of Environmental Science and Technology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China
Abstract. Ambient OH and HO2 concentrations were measured by laser induced fluorescence (LIF) during the PRIDE-PRD2006 (Program of Regional Integrated Experiments of Air Quality over the Pearl River Delta, 2006) campaign at a rural site downwind of the megacity of Guangzhou in Southern China. The observed OH concentrations reached daily peak values of (15–26) × 106 cm−3 which are among the highest values so far reported for urban and suburban areas. The observed OH shows a consistent high correlation with j(O1D) over a broad range of NOx conditions. The correlation cannot be reproduced by model simulations, indicating that OH stabilizing processes are missing in current models. The observed OH exhibited a weak dependence on NOx in contrast to model predictions. While modelled and measured OH agree well at NO mixing ratios above 1 ppb, a continuously increasing underprediction of the observed OH is found towards lower NO concentrations, reaching a factor of 8 at 0.02 ppb NO. A dependence of the modelled-to-measured OH ratio on isoprene cannot be concluded from the PRD data. However, the magnitude of the ratio fits into the isoprene dependent trend that was reported from other campaigns in forested regions. Hofzumahaus et al. (2009) proposed an unknown OH recycling process without NO, in order to explain the high OH levels at PRD in the presence of high VOC reactivity and low NO. Taking a recently discovered interference in the LIF measurement of HO2 into account, the need for an additional HO2 → OH recycling process persists, but the required source strength may be up to 20% larger than previously determined. Recently postulated isoprene mechanisms by Lelieveld et al. (2008) and Peeters and Müller (2010) lead to significant enhancements of OH expected for PRD, but an underprediction of the observed OH by a factor of two remains at low NO (0.1–0.2 ppb). If the photolysis of hydroperoxy aldehydes from isoprene is as efficient as proposed by Peeters and Müller (2010), the corresponding OH formation at PRD would be more important than the primary OH production from ozone and HONO. While the new isoprene mechanisms need to be confirmed by laboratory experiments, there is probably need for other, so far unidentified chemical processes to explain entirely the high OH levels observed in Southern China.