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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 15 May 2019

Submitted as: research article | 15 May 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Intercomparison of nitrous acid (HONO) measurement techniques in a megacity (Beijing)

Leigh R. Crilley1, Louisa J. Kramer1, Bin Ouyang2, Jun Duan3, Wenqian Zhang4, Shengrui Tong4, Maofa Ge4, Ke Tang3, Min Qin3, Pinhua Xe3, Marvin D. Shaw5,6, Alastair C. Lewis5,6, Archit Mehra7, Thomas J. Bannan7, Stephen D. Worrall7,a, Michael Priestley7,b, Asan Bacak7, Hugh Coe7, James Allan7,6, Carl J. Percival7,c, Olalekan A. M. Popoola8, Roderic L. Jones8, and William J. Bloss1 Leigh R. Crilley et al.
  • 1School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
  • 2Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, LA1 4YQ, UK
  • 3Key Laboratory of Environment Optics and Technology, Anhui Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei, 230031, China
  • 4Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences (BNLMS), State Key Laboratory for Structural Chemistry of Unstable and Stable Species, CAS Research/Education Center for Excellence in Molecular Sciences, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
  • 5Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK
  • 6National Centre for Atmospheric Science, UK
  • 7Centre for Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK
  • 8Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 1EW, UK
  • anow at: Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, B4 7ET, UK
  • bnow at: Atmospheric Science, Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • cnow at: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA

Abstract. Nitrous acid (HONO) is a key determinant of the daytime radical budget in the daytime boundary layer, with quantitative measurement required to understand OH radical abundance. Accurate and precise measurements of HONO are therefore needed; however HONO is a challenging compound to measure in the field, in particular in a chemically complex and highly polluted environment. Here we report an inter-comparison exercise between HONO measurements performed by two wet chemical techniques (the commercially available LOPAP and a custom-built instrument) and two Broadband Cavity Enhanced Absorption Spectrophotometer (BBCEAS) instruments at an urban location in Beijing. In addition, we report a comparison of HONO measurements performed by Time of Flight Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer (ToF-CIMS) and Syft Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometer (PTR-MS) to the more established techniques (wet chemical and BBCEAS). The key finding from the current work was that all instruments agree on the temporal trends/variability in HONO (r2 > 0.97), yet displayed some divergence in absolute concentrations, with the wet chemical methods consistently higher than the BBCEAS systems by between 12 and 39 %. We found no evidence for any systematic bias in any of the instruments, with the exception of measurements near instrument detection limits. The causes of the divergence in absolute HONO concentrations were unclear, and may in part have been due to spatial variability, i.e. differences in instrument location/inlet position.

Leigh R. Crilley et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Leigh R. Crilley et al.
Leigh R. Crilley et al.
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Short summary
Nitrous acid (HONO) is key species for understanding tropospheric chemistry, yet accurate and precise measurements are challenging. Here we report an inter-comparison exercise of a number of instruments that measured HONO in a highly polluted location (Beijing). All instruments agreed on the temporal trends, yet displayed divergence in absolute concentrations. The causes of this divergence was unclear, but may in part be due to spatial variability in instrument location.
Nitrous acid (HONO) is key species for understanding tropospheric chemistry, yet accurate and...