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Published February 13, 2017 | Supplemental Material + Published
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Nitrate radicals and biogenic volatile organic compounds: oxidation, mechanisms, and organic aerosol


Oxidation of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOC) by the nitrate radical (NO_3) represents one of the important interactions between anthropogenic emissions related to combustion and natural emissions from the biosphere. This interaction has been recognized for more than 3 decades, during which time a large body of research has emerged from laboratory, field, and modeling studies. NO_3-BVOC reactions influence air quality, climate and visibility through regional and global budgets for reactive nitrogen (particularly organic nitrates), ozone, and organic aerosol. Despite its long history of research and the significance of this topic in atmospheric chemistry, a number of important uncertainties remain. These include an incomplete understanding of the rates, mechanisms, and organic aerosol yields for NO_3-BVOC reactions, lack of constraints on the role of heterogeneous oxidative processes associated with the NO_3 radical, the difficulty of characterizing the spatial distributions of BVOC and NO_3 within the poorly mixed nocturnal atmosphere, and the challenge of constructing appropriate boundary layer schemes and non-photochemical mechanisms for use in state-of-the-art chemical transport and chemistry–climate models. This review is the result of a workshop of the same title held at the Georgia Institute of Technology in June 2015. The first half of the review summarizes the current literature on NO_3-BVOC chemistry, with a particular focus on recent advances in instrumentation and models, and in organic nitrate and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation chemistry. Building on this current understanding, the second half of the review outlines impacts of NO_3-BVOC chemistry on air quality and climate, and suggests critical research needs to better constrain this interaction to improve the predictive capabilities of atmospheric models.

Additional Information

© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Received: 12 Aug 2016 – Discussion started: 18 Aug 2016. Revised: 29 Dec 2016 – Accepted: 02 Jan 2017 – Published: 13 Feb 2017. The authors acknowledge support from the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry project (IGAC), the US National Science Foundation (NSF grants AGS-1541331 and AGS-1644979), and Georgia Tech College of Engineering and College of Sciences for support of the workshop on nitrate radicals and biogenic hydrocarbons that led to this review article. N. L. Ng acknowledges support from NSF CAREER AGS-1555034 and US Environmental Protection Agency STAR (Early Career) RD-83540301. S. S. Brown acknowledges support from the NOAA Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle and Climate program. A. T. Archibald and B. Ouyang thank NERC for funding through NE/M00273X/1. E. Atlas acknowledges NSF grant AGS-0753200. R. C. Cohen acknowledges NSF grant AGS-1352972. J. N. Crowley acknowledges the Max Planck Society. J. L. Fry, D. A. Day, and J. L. Jimenez acknowledge support from the NOAA Climate Program Office's AC4 program, award no. NA13OAR4310063 (Colorado)/NA13OAR4310070 (Reed). N. M. Donahue acknowledges NSF AGS-1447056. M. I. Guzman wishes to acknowledge support from NSF CAREER award (CHE-1255290). J. L. Jimenez and D. A. Day acknowledge support from NSF AGS-1360834 and EPA 83587701-0. R. McLaren acknowledges NSERC grant RGPIN/183982-2012. H. Herrmann, A. Tilgner, and A. Mutzel acknowledge the DARK KNIGHT project funded by DFG under HE 3086/25-1. B. Picquet-Varrault acknowledges support from the French National Agency for Research (project ONCEM-ANR-12-BS06-0017-01). R. H. Schwantes acknowledges NSF AGS-1240604. Y. Rudich and S. S. Brown acknowledge support from the USA-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) grant no. 2012013. Y. Rudich acknowledges support from the Henri Gutwirth Foundation. J. Mao acknowledges support from the NOAA Climate Program Office grant no. NA13OAR4310071. J. A. Thornton acknowledges support from NSF AGS 1360745. B. H. Lee was supported by the NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship. R. A. Zaveri acknowledges support from the US Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric System Research (ASR) program under contract DE-AC06-76RLO 1830 at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through its Office of Research and Development (ORD), collaborated in the research described herein. It has been subjected to Agency administrative review and approved for publication, but may not necessarily reflect official Agency policy. The Supplement related to this article is available online at doi:10.5194/acp-17-2103-2017-supplement. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Edited by: E. Harris. Reviewed by: two anonymous referees.

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