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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-326
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 12 Apr 2018

Research article | 12 Apr 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Tropospheric sources and sinks of gas-phase acids in the Colorado Front Range

James M. Mattila1, Patrick Brophy1, Jeffrey Kirkland1, Samuel Hall2, Kirk Ullmann2, Emily V. Fischer3, Steve Brown4,5, Erin McDuffie4,5,6, Alex Tevlin7, and Delphine K. Farmer1 James M. Mattila et al.
  • 1Department of Chemistry, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
  • 2National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 3Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
  • 4NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Chemical Sciences Division, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 5Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 6Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 7Depart ment of Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Abstract. We measured organic and inorganic gas-phase acids in the Front Range of Colorado to better understand their tropospheric sources and sinks using a high-resolution time-of-flight chemical ionization mass spectrometer. Measurements were conducted from 4 to 13 August 2014 at the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory during the Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Éxperiment. Diurnal increases in mixing ratios are consistent with photochemical sources of HNO3, HNCO, formic, propionic, butyric, valeric, and pyruvic acid. Vertical profiles taken on the 300m tower demonstrate net surface-level emissions of alkanoic acids, but net surface deposition of HNO3 and pyruvic acid. The surface-level alkanoic acid source persists through both day and night, and is thus not solely photochemical. Reactions between O3 and organic surfaces may contribute to the surface-level alkanoic acid source. Nearby traffic emissions and agricultural activity are a primary source of propionic, butyric, and valeric acid, and likely contribute photochemical precursors to HNO3 and HNCO. The combined diel and vertical profiles of the alkanoic acids and HNCO are inconsistent with dry deposition and photochemical losses being the only sinks, suggesting additional loss mechanisms.

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Short summary
Molecular acids in the atmosphere have implications toward human health and air quality. Measurements of various acidic molecules were performed in the Colorado Front Range. Atmospheric concentrations of many acids increased during the day, indicative of sunlight-related production sources. A surface-level source of many acids persisting throughout day and night was observed. Traffic and agricultural activity were important anthropogenic sources of several acids near the measurement site.
Molecular acids in the atmosphere have implications toward human health and air quality....
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