24 Apr 2023
 | 24 Apr 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

OH, HO2, and RO2 radical chemistry in a rural forest environment: Measurements, model comparisons, and evidence of a missing radical sink

Brandon Bottorff, Michelle M. Lew, Youngjun Woo, Pamela Rickly, Matthew D. Rollings, Benjamin Deming, Daniel C. Anderson, Ezra Wood, Hariprasad D. Alwe, Dylan B. Millet, Andrew Weinheimer, Geoff Tyndall, John Ortega, Sebastien Dusanter, Thierry Leonardis, James Flynn, Matt Erickson, Sergio Alvarez, Jean C. Rivera-Rios, Joshua D. Shutter, Frank Keutsch, Detlev Helmig, Wei Wang, Hannah M. Allen, Steven Bertman, and Philip S. Stevens

Abstract. The hydroxyl (OH), hydroperoxy (HO2), and organic peroxy (RO2) radicals play important roles in atmospheric chemistry. In the presence of nitrogen oxides (NOx), reactions between OH and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can initiate a radical propagation cycle that leads to the production of ozone and secondary organic aerosols. Previous measurements of these radicals under low-NOx conditions in forested environments characterized by emissions of biogenic VOCs, including isoprene and monoterpenes, have shown discrepancies with modeled concentrations.

During the summer of 2016, OH, HO2 and RO2 radical concentrations were measured as part of the Program for Research on Oxidants: Photochemistry, Emissions, and Transport – Atmospheric Measurements of Oxidants in Summer (PROPHET-AMOS) campaign in a mid-latitude deciduous broadleaf forest. Measurements of OH and HO2 were made by laser-induced fluorescence – fluorescence assay by gas expansion techniques (LIF-FAGE) and total peroxy radical (XO2) mixing ratios were measured by an ethane chemical amplification (ECHAMP) instrument. Supporting measurements of photolysis frequencies, VOCs, NOx, O3, and meteorological data were used to constrain a zero-dimensional box model utilizing either the Regional Atmospheric Chemical Mechanism (RACM2), or the Master Chemical Mechanism (MCM). Model simulations tested the influence of HOx regeneration reactions within the isoprene oxidation scheme from the Leuven Isoprene Mechanism (LIM1). On average, the LIM1 models overestimated daytime maximum measurements by approximately 40 % for OH, 65 % for HO2, and more than a factor of two for XO2. Modelled XO2 mixing ratios were also significantly higher than measured at night. Addition of RO2 + RO2 accretion reactions for terpene-derived RO2 radicals to the model can partially explain the discrepancy between measurements and modelled peroxy radical concentrations at night but cannot explain the daytime discrepancies when OH reactivity is dominated by isoprene. The models also overestimated measured concentrations of isoprene-derived hydroxyhydroperoxides (ISOPOOH) by a factor of ten during the daytime, consistent with the model overestimation of peroxy radical concentrations. Constraining the model to the measured concentration of peroxy radicals improves the agreement with the measured ISOPOOH concentrations, suggesting that the measured radical concentrations are more consistent with the measured ISOPOOH concentrations. These results suggest that the models may be missing an important daytime radical sink and could be overestimating the rate of ozone and secondary product formation in this forest.

Brandon Bottorff et al.

Status: open (until 05 Jun 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-790', Anonymous Referee #1, 16 May 2023 reply

Brandon Bottorff et al.

Brandon Bottorff et al.


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Short summary
The hydroxyl (OH), hydroperoxy (HO2), and organic peroxy (RO2) radicals play important roles in atmospheric chemistry and have significant air quality implications. Here, we compare measurements of OH, HO2, and total peroxy radicals (XO2) made in a remote forest in Michigan, USA to predictions from a series of chemical models. Lower measured radical concentrations suggest that the models may be missing an important radical sink and overestimating the rate of ozone production in this forest.