Central role of nitric oxide in ozone production in the upper tropical troposphere over the Atlantic Ocean and western Africa

Tadic, Ivan; Nussbaumer, Clara M.; Bohn, Birger; Harder, Hartwig; Marno, Daniel; Martinez, Monica; Obersteiner, Florian; Parchatka, Uwe; Pozzer, Andrea; Rohloff, Roland; Zöger, Martin; Lelieveld, Jos; Fischer, Horst

Mechanisms of tropospheric ozone (inline-formulaO3) formation are generally well understood. However, studies reporting on net ozone production rates (NOPRs) directly derived from in situ observations are challenging and are sparse in number. To analyze the role of nitric oxide (NO) in net ozone production in the upper tropical troposphere above the Atlantic Ocean and western Africa, we present in situ trace gas observations obtained during the CAFE-Africa (Chemistry of the Atmosphere: Field Experiment in Africa) campaign in August and September 2018. The vertical profile of in situ measured NO along the flight tracks reveals lowest NO mixing ratios of less than 20 pptv between 2 and 8 km altitude and highest mixing ratios of 0.15–0.2 ppbv above 12 km altitude. Spatial distribution of tropospheric NO above 12 km altitude shows that the sporadically enhanced local mixing ratios (inline-formula>0.4 ppbv) occur over western Africa, which we attribute to episodic lightning events. Measured inline-formulaO3 shows little variability in mixing ratios at 60–70 ppbv, with slightly decreasing and increasing tendencies towards the boundary layer and stratosphere, respectively. Concurrent measurements of CO, inline-formulaCH4, OH, inline-formulaHO2 and inline-formulaH2O enable calculations of NOPRs along the flight tracks and reveal net ozone destruction at inline-formula−0.6 to inline-formula−0.2inline-formulappbv h−1 below 6 km altitude and balance of production and destruction around 7–8 km altitude. We report vertical average NOPRs of 0.2–0.4 inline-formulappbv h−1 above 12 km altitude with NOPRs occasionally larger than 0.5 inline-formulappbv h−1 over western Africa coincident with enhanced NO. We compare the observational results to simulated data retrieved from the general circulation model ECHAM/MESSy Atmospheric Chemistry (EMAC). Although the comparison of mean vertical profiles of NO and inline-formulaO3 indicates good agreement, local deviations between measured and modeled NO are substantial. The vertical tendencies in NOPRs calculated from simulated data largely reproduce those from in situ experimental data. However, the simulation results do not agree well with NOPRs over western Africa. Both measurements and simulations indicate that ozone formation in the upper tropical troposphere is inline-formulaNOx limited.

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Tadic, Ivan / Nussbaumer, Clara M. / Bohn, Birger / et al: Central role of nitric oxide in ozone production in the upper tropical troposphere over the Atlantic Ocean and western Africa. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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