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Carpenter L.J.,University of York | Fleming Z.L.,University of Leicester | Read K.A.,University of York | Lee J.D.,University of York | And 45 more authors.
Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry | Year: 2010

Observations of the tropical atmosphere are fundamental to the understanding of global changes in air quality, atmospheric oxidation capacity and climate, yet the tropics are under-populated with long-term measurements. The first three years (October 2006-September 2009) of meteorological, trace gas and particulate data from the global WMO/Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory Humberto Duarte Fonseca (CVAO; 16° 51′ N, 24° 52′ W) are presented, along with a characterisation of the origin and pathways of air masses arriving at the station using the NAME dispersion model and simulations of dust deposition using the COSMO-MUSCAT dust model. The observations show a strong influence from Saharan dust in winter with a maximum in super-micron aerosol and particulate iron and aluminium. The dust model results match the magnitude and daily variations of dust events, but in the region of the CVAO underestimate the measured aerosol optical thickness (AOT) because of contributions from other aerosol. The NAME model also captured the dust events, giving confidence in its ability to correctly identify air mass origins and pathways in this region. Dissolution experiments on collected dust samples showed a strong correlation between soluble Fe and Al and measured solubilities were lower at high atmospheric dust concentrations. Fine mode aerosol at the CVAO contains a significant fraction of non-sea salt components including dicarboxylic acids, methanesulfonic acid and aliphatic amines, all believed to be of oceanic origin. A marine influence is also apparent in the year-round presence of iodine and bromine monoxide (IO and BrO), with IO suggested to be confined mainly to the surface few hundred metres but BrO well mixed in the boundary layer. Enhanced CO 2 and CH 4 and depleted oxygen concentrations are markers for air-sea exchange over the nearby northwest African coastal upwelling area. Long-range transport results in generally higher levels of O 3 and anthropogenic non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) in air originating from North America. Ozone/CO ratios were highest (up to 0.42) in relatively fresh European air masses. In air heavily influenced by Saharan dust the O 3/CO ratio was as low as 0.13, possibly indicating O 3 uptake to dust. Nitrogen oxides (NO x and NO y) show generally higher concentrations in winter when air mass origins are predominantly from Africa. High photochemical activity at the site is shown by maximum spring/summer concentrations of OH and HO 2 of 9×10 6 molecule cm -3 and 6×10 8 molecule cm -3, respectively. After the primary photolysis source, the most important controls on the HO x budget in this region are IO and BrO chemistry, the abundance of HCHO, and uptake of HO x to aerosol. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Read K.A.,University of York | Carpenter L.J.,University of York | Arnold S.R.,University of Leeds | Beale R.,Plymouth Marine Laboratory | And 6 more authors.
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2012

Oxygenated volatile organic compounds (OVOCs) in the atmosphere are precursors to peroxy acetyl nitrate (PAN), affect the tropospheric ozone budget, and in the remote marine environment represent a significant sink of the hydroxyl radical (OH). The sparse observational database for these compounds, particularly in the tropics, contributes to a high uncertainty in their emissions and atmospheric significance. Here, we show measurements of acetone, methanol, and acetaldehyde in the tropical remote marine boundary layer made between October 2006 and September 2011 at the Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory (CVAO) (16.85° N, 24.87° W). Mean mixing ratios of acetone, methanol, and acetaldehyde were 546 ± 295 pptv, 742 ± 419 pptv, and 428 ± 190 pptv, respectively, averaged from approximately hourly values over this five-year period. The CAM-Chem global chemical transport model reproduced annual average acetone concentrations well (21% overestimation) but underestimated levels by a factor of 2 in autumn and overestimated concentrations in winter. Annual average concentrations of acetaldehyde were underestimated by a factor of 10, rising to a factor of 40 in summer, and methanol was underestimated on average by a factor of 2, peaking to over a factor of 4 in spring. The model predicted summer minima in acetaldehyde and acetone, which were not apparent in the observations. CAM-Chem was adapted to include a two-way sea-air flux parametrization based on seawater measurements made in the Atlantic Ocean, and the resultant fluxes suggest that the tropical Atlantic region is a net sink for acetone but a net source for methanol and acetaldehyde. Inclusion of the ocean fluxes resulted in good model simulations of monthly averaged methanol levels although still with a 3-fold underestimation in acetaldehyde. Wintertime acetone levels were better simulated, but the observed autumn levels were more severely underestimated than in the standard model. We suggest that the latter may be caused by underestimated terrestrial biogenic African primary and/or secondary OVOC sources by the model. The model underestimation of acetaldehyde concentrations all year round implies a consistent significant missing source, potentially from secondary chemistry of higher alkanes produced biogenically from plants or from the ocean. We estimate that low model bias in OVOC abundances in the remote tropical marine atmosphere may result in up to 8% underestimation of the global methane lifetime due to missing model OH reactivity. Underestimation of acetaldehyde concentrations is responsible for the bulk (∼70%) of this missing reactivity. © 2012 American Chemical Society.

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