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Founded in 1887

Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie

International journal of research in physical chemistry and chemical physics

Ed. by Rademann, Klaus

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Sources and Cycling of Tropospheric Hydroxyl Radicals – An Overview

Yasin Elshorbany1 / Ian Barnes2 / Karl H. Becker3 / Jörg Kleffmann* / Peter Wiesen4

1 University of Wuppertal, FB C- Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Wuppertal

2 University of Wuppertal, FB C- Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Wuppertal

3 University of Wuppertal, FB C- Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Wuppertal

4 University of Wuppertal, FB C- Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Wuppertal

* Correspondence address: University of Wuppertal, FB C- Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Gauß Str. 20, 42119 Wuppertal, Deutschland,

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie. Volume 224, Issue 7-8, Pages 967–987, ISSN (Online) 2196-7156, ISSN (Print) 0942-9352, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/zpch.2010.6136, August 2010

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The hydroxyl radical is the principal oxidizing agent in the troposphere. It controls and determines the oxidizing power of the atmosphere and thus governs the atmospheric lifetime of many species, and their potential to contribute to climate change, air pollution and ozone formation. Owing to the development of new measurement techniques and the discovery of new reaction mechanisms, the understanding of the OH chemistry has witnessed significant advances during the last decades. This article presents a comprehensive review of the current understanding of OH radical chemistry with an outlook to future work in this active research area of atmospheric chemistry.Among the different OH radical initiation sources, e.g. O3 photolysis, HCHO photolysis, ozonolysis of alkenes and the photolysis of nitrous acid (HONO), the latter has been shown in recent field and model studies to make a major contribution to tropospheric OH levels. New photochemical sources of HONO have been discovered in the laboratory which can explain unexpectedly high concentrations of HONO observed in the atmosphere during daytime. A detailed analysis of HONO sources in the atmosphere is presented. OH radicals react with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a complex cycle regenerating OH radicals in the propagation cycle. Recent field and model studies show that the OH radical propagation cycle is balanced for high NOx conditions. Thus, radical losses by reactions with VOCs are balanced by OH formation through the reaction HO2+NO. However, studies at low NO and high VOC levels imply that unknown radical sources of OH exist in rural and forested areas. Possible sources of OH radicals under these conditions are discussed.

Keywords: OH Radicals; HONO; Oxidation of VOCs; Sources and Sinks of OH Radicals

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