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Published May 15, 2002 | Published
Journal Article Open

Isotopic fractionation of carbonyl sulfide in the atmosphere: Implications for the source of background stratospheric sulfate aerosol


In order to assess the contribution of carbonyl sulfide to stratospheric sulfate aerosol (SSA), we examined the stratospheric OC^(34)S and OC^(32)S concentration profiles in the infrared limb-transmittance spectra acquired by the JPL MkIV instrument. We found that OC^(34)S is preferentially depleted by solar photolysis. The derived ^(34)S enrichment factor: ε = +73.8 ± 8.6‰, in conjunction with literature values of δ^(34)S ∼ +11‰ for tropospheric OCS, and a ∼ 10% net processing of the OCS transported upwardly into the stratosphere, suggests that aerosol sulfate proceeding from OCS should be highly enriched in δ^(34)S ∼ 80‰, comparing our prediction with previous reports of δ^(34)S ∼ +2.6‰ for background SSA, we infer either that OCS is a minor contributor to SSA or that current views about its ^(34)S-abundance and atmospheric circulation are seriously flawed.

Additional Information

© 2002 American Geophysical Union. Received 21 August 2001; revised 26 September 2001; accepted 27 September 2001; published 30 May 2002. Thanks to Prof. Yuk Yung (Caltech) for invaluable advice and for allowing us to use his group's facilities, and to Alain Barbe for providing the spectroscopic information on O_3 isotopomers necessary for the spectral analysis.

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