Significant concentrations of nitryl chloride sustained in the morning: investigations of the causes and impacts on ozone production in a polluted region of northern China
Nitryl chloride (ClNO 2) is a dominant source of chlorine radical in polluted environment, and can significantly affect the atmospheric oxidative chemistry. However, the abundance of ClNO 2 and its exact role are not fully understood under different environmental conditions. During the summer of 2014, we deployed a chemical ionization mass spectrometer to measure ClNO 2 and dinitrogen pentoxide (N 2O 5) at a rural site in the polluted North China Plain. Elevated mixing ratios of ClNO 2 (> 350 pptv) were observed at most of the nights with low levels of N 2O 5 (< 200 pptv). The highest ClNO 2 mixing ratio of 2070 pptv (1 min average) was observed in a plume from a megacity (Tianjin), and was characterized with a faster N 2O 5 heterogeneous loss rate and ClNO 2 production rate compared to average conditions. The abundant ClNO 2 concentration kept increasing even after sunrise, and reached a peak 4 h later. Such highly sustained ClNO 2 peaks after sunrise are discrepant from the previously observed typical diurnal pattern. Meteorological and chemical analysis shows that the sustained ClNO 2 morning peaks are caused by significant ClNO 2 production in the residual layer at night followed by downward mixing after breakup of the nocturnal inversion layer in the morning. We estimated that ∼ 1.7–4.0 ppbv of ClNO 2 would exist in the residual layer in order to maintain the observed morning ClNO 2 peaks at the surface site. Observation-based box model analysis show that photolysis of ClNO 2 produced chlorine radical with a rate up to 1.12 ppbv h −1, accounting for 10–30 % of primary RO x production in the morning hours. The perturbation in total radical production leads to an increase of integrated daytime net ozone production by 3 % (4.3 ppbv) on average, and with a larger increase of 13 % (11 ppbv) in megacity outflow that was characterized with higher ClNO 2 and a relatively lower oxygenated hydrocarbon (OVOC) to non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) ratio.