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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 22 Jun 2018

Research article | 22 Jun 2018

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

Stable isotope measurements confirm volatile organic compound oxidation as a major urban summertime source of carbon monoxide in Indianapolis, USA

Isaac J. Vimont1,2, Jocelyn C. Turnbull3, Vasilii V. Petrenko4, Philip F. Place4, Colm Sweeney2, Natasha Miles5, Scott Richardson5, Bruce H. Vaughn1, and James W. C. White1 Isaac J. Vimont et al.
  • 1Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 2National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Global Monitoring Division, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 3GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
  • 4University of Rochester Earth and Environmental Science Department, Rochester, NY, USA
  • 5Pennsylvania State University, College Station, PA, USA

Abstract. Atmospheric carbon monoxide (CO) is a regulated pollutant in urban centers. Oxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) has been hypothesized to contribute substantially to the summertime urban CO budget. We performed measurements of CO stable isotopes on air samples from three sites in and around Indianapolis, USA over three summers to investigate the VOC contribution to urban CO. One of the sites is located upwind of the city, allowing us to quantitatively remove the background air signal and isolate the urban CO enhancements. The distinct isotopic signatures of CO produced from fossil fuel combustion and VOC oxidation allow us to separate contributions from these two sources. Our results provide the strongest empirical evidence to date of large contributions from VOC oxidation to the urban summertime CO source and show that this contribution varies in time and location between 0 and 58 %. We attribute the remainder of the Indianapolis summertime CO budget to fossil fuel combustion. We assess the reactivities of different VOCs and determine that biogenic sources are likely responsible for the majority of CO produced by VOC oxidation reactions within Indianapolis.

Isaac J. Vimont et al.
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Isaac J. Vimont et al.
Isaac J. Vimont et al.
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Short summary
Stable Isotopes of Carbon Monoxide (CO) were used to constrain the fossil combustion and biogenic VOC oxidation sources of CO over three summers at Indianapolis, IN, USA. These results suggest the first direct confirmation that CO produced by biogenic VOC oxidation is comparable to combustion produced CO within an urban region for at least some of the summer months. These results further confirm previous studies that have used indirect evidence to assess the biogenic VOC and fossil CO budgets.
Stable Isotopes of Carbon Monoxide (CO) were used to constrain the fossil combustion and...