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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 18 Jun 2020

Submitted as: research article | 18 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Use of filter radiometer measurements to derive local photolysis rates and for future monitoring network application

Hannah L. Walker1,2, Mathew R. Heal1, Christine F. Braban2, Mhairi Coyle2,3, Sarah R. Leeson2, Ivan Simmons2, Matthew R. Jones2, Richard Kift4, and Marsailidh M. Twigg2 Hannah L. Walker et al.
  • 1School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh, David Brewster Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3FJ, UK
  • 2UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Edinburgh, EH26 0QB, UK
  • 3The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, AB15 8QH, UK
  • 4Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK

Abstract. Production of hydroxyl (OH) radicals is frequently dominated by the photolysis of tropospheric ozone (O3). However, photolysis of nocturnal radical reservoirs, such as nitrous acid (HONO) and nitryl chloride (ClNO2), also produces radicals (OH and Cl atoms) that contribute to the oxidising capacity of the local atmosphere, and initiate many radical-chain reactions that lead to the formation of harmful secondary pollutants. Photolysis of nitric acid (HNO3) is also a minor radical production mechanism. In this paper, locally representative photolysis rate constants (j-values) for these molecules are shown to be critical for quantifying and understanding the rate of radical production in a local atmosphere.

The first long-term 4-π filter radiometer dataset in the UK (21 November 2018–20 November 2019) available for direct atmospheric model validation is reported. Measurements were made at Auchencorth Moss, a Scottish rural background site, and j(NO2) is used to generate a measurement-driven adjustment factor (MDAF) for calculated j-values that accounts for local changes in meteorological variables without significantly increasing computational cost.

Modelled clear-sky j-values and actinic flux for Auchencorth Moss were generated using the Tropospheric Ultraviolet and Visible radiation model (TUV; v.5.3.1). Applying the MDAF metric resulted in the calculated photolytic production rate of OH radicals, from all sources considered, being ~40 % lower over the year. Photolysis of HONO resulted in an increased rate of OH production compared to that from O3 in low-light conditions, such as sunrise and sunset (Solar Zenith Angle > 80°). Hydroxyl radical production from HONO photolysis exceeded that from O3 consistently throughout the day during the winter and autumn (by a factor of 5 and 2.1, respectively). Radical production rates from HONO and ClNO2 reached maximum values during the early morning hours of summer (06:00–09:00 UTC), with OH produced at a rate of 1.06 × 106 OH radicals cm−3 s−1, and Cl radicals at 3.20 × 104 Cl radicals cm−3 s−1, with the MDAF metric applied.

This first application of the MDAF j-values demonstrates an efficient measurement and computational approach to improve modelling of the local atmospheric photochemistry that drives NO2, O3 and PM pollution levels. The incorporation of local radiation measurements in measurement networks, and the consequent greater spatial resolution of locally-relevant photolysis coefficients in model photolysis parameterisations, will improve the accuracy of assessment of air pollution and policy-intervention impacts.

Hannah L. Walker et al.

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Hannah L. Walker et al.

Data sets

Auchencorth Moss Atmospheric Observatory (AU): Hourly averaged 4-pi filter radiometer measurements (21/11/2018 - 20/11/2019) near Edinburgh (UK) H. L. Walker, M. R. Heal, C. F. Braban, M. Coyle, S. R. Leeson, I. Simmons, M. R. Jones, and M. M. Twigg

Hannah L. Walker et al.


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Short summary
Quantifying local photolysis rates are critical to understanding local air quality. We present the first year of a long-term filter radiometer measurement dataset in the UK (Auchencorth Moss, SE Scotland), and demonstrate the potential application of this data to account for variations in local meteorology (e.g. clouds and aerosols) in atmospheric models, which otherwise increase computational cost. The scientific and policy value of these measurements are also emphasised.
Quantifying local photolysis rates are critical to understanding local air quality. We present...