The chemistry of OH and HO2 radicals in the boundary layer over the tropical Atlantic Ocean
1School of Chemistry, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
2Chemistry Department, University of York, Heslington, YO10 5DD, UK
3Physics Department, Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Leipzig, Germany
4Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
Abstract. Fluorescence Assay by Gas Expansion (FAGE) has been used to detect ambient levels of OH and HO2 radicals at the Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory, located in the tropical Atlantic marine boundary layer, during May and June 2007. Midday radical concentrations were high, with maximum concentrations of 9×106 molecule cm−3 and 6×108 molecule cm−3 observed for OH and HO2, respectively. A box model incorporating the detailed Master Chemical Mechanism, extended to include halogen chemistry, and constrained by all available measurements including halogen and nitrogen oxides, has been used to assess the chemical and physical parameters controlling the radical chemistry. IO and BrO, although present only at a few pptv, constituted ~23% of the instantaneous sinks for HO2. Modelled HO2 was sensitive to both HCHO concentration and the rate of heterogeneous loss to the ocean surface and aerosols. However, a unique combination of these parameters could not be found that gave optimised (to within 15%) agreement during both the day and night. The results imply a missing nighttime source of HO2. The model underpredicted the daytime (sunrise to sunset) OH concentration by 12%. Photolysis of HOI and HOBr accounted for ~13% of the instantaneous rate of OH formation. Taking into account that halogen oxides increase the oxidation of NOx (NO→NO2), and in turn reduce the rate of formation of OH from the reaction of HO2 with NO, OH concentrations were estimated to be 10% higher overall due to the presence of halogens. The increase in modelled OH from halogen chemistry gives an estimated 10% shorter lifetime for methane in this region, and the inclusion of halogen chemistry is necessary to model the observed daily cycle of ozone destruction that is observed at the surface. Due to surface losses, we hypothesise that HO2 concentrations increase with height and therefore contribute a larger fraction of the ozone destruction than at the surface.