Sources of nitrous acid (HONO) in the upper boundary layer and lower free troposphere of the North China Plain: insights from the Mount Tai Observatory

Jiang, Ying; Xue, Likun; Gu, Rongrong; Jia, Mengwei; Zhang, Yingnan; Wen, Liang; Zheng, Penggang; Chen, Tianshu; Li, Hongyong; Shan, Ye; Zhao, Yong; Guo, Zhaoxin; Bi, Yujian; Liu, Hengde; Ding, Aijun; Zhang, Qingzhu; Wang, Wenxing

Nitrous acid (HONO) is a significant precursor of atmospheric “detergent” OH radicals and plays a vital role in tropospheric chemistry. The current knowledge about daytime HONO sources is incomplete, and its impact on the tropospheric radical chemistry has not been fully quantified. Existing observational studies of HONO were mostly conducted at the surface, with few efforts focusing on the high-elevation atmosphere. In order to better understand the characteristics and sources of HONO in the upper boundary layer and lower free troposphere, two intensive field observations were carried out at the summit of Mt. Tai (1534 m a.s.l.), the peak of the North China Plain (NCP), in winter 2017 and spring 2018. HONO showed moderate concentration levels (average inline-formula± standard deviation: inline-formula0.15±0.15 and inline-formula0.13±0.15 ppbv), with maximum values of 1.14 and 3.23 ppbv in winter and spring, respectively. Diurnal variation patterns with broad noontime maxima and lower nighttime concentrations were observed during both campaigns, which is distinct from most of the previous studies at the ground level. The Lagrangian particle dispersion model (LPDM, WRF-FLEXPART v3.3) simulations indicated the combined effects of the planetary boundary layer evolution and valley breeze on the daytime HONO peak. A photostationary state (PSS) analysis suggested a strong unknown daytime HONO source with production rates of inline-formula0.45±0.25 ppb hinline-formula−1 in winter and inline-formula0.64±0.49 ppb hinline-formula−1 in spring. Correlation analysis supported the important role of photo-enhanced heterogeneous conversion of inline-formulaNO2 to HONO on the aerosol surface at this high-elevation site. HONO photolysis is the predominant primary source of OH radical and plays a major role in the radical chemistry at Mt. Tai. The model only considering a homogenous HONO source predicted much lower levels of the inline-formulaHOx radicals and atmospheric oxidation capacity than the model constrained with measured HONO data. This study sheds light on the characteristics, sources, chemistry, and impacts of HONO in the upper boundary layer and lower free troposphere in the NCP region.

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Jiang, Ying / Xue, Likun / Gu, Rongrong / et al: Sources of nitrous acid (HONO) in the upper boundary layer and lower free troposphere of the North China Plain: insights from the Mount Tai Observatory. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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