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Seasonal variation in nitryl chloride and its relation to gas-phase precursors during the JULIAC campaign in Germany

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-24, 15:20 authored by Zhaofeng Tan, Hendrik Fuchs, Andreas Hofzumahaus, William J Bloss, Birger Bohn, Changmin Cho, Thorsten Hohaus, Frank Holland, Chandrakiran Lakshmisha, Lu Liu, Paul S Monks, Anna Novelli, Doreen Niether, Franz Rohrer, Ralf Tillmann, Thalassa SE Valkenburg, Vaishali Vardhan, Astrid Kiendler-Scharr, Andreas Wahner, Roberto Sommariva

Ambient measurements of nitryl chloride (ClNO2) were performed at a rural site in Germany, covering three periods in winter, summer, and autumn 2019, as part of the JULIAC campaign (Jülich Atmospheric Chemistry Project) that aimed to understand the photochemical processes in air masses typical of midwestern Europe. Measurements were conducted at 50 m aboveground, which was mainly located in the nocturnal boundary layer and thus uncoupled from local surface emissions. ClNO2 is produced at night by the heterogeneous reaction of dinitrogen pentoxide (N2O5) on chloride (Cl−) that contains aerosol. Its photolysis during the day is of general interest, as it produces chlorine (Cl) atoms that react with different atmospheric trace gases to form radicals. The highest-observed ClNO2 mixing ratio was 1.6 ppbv (parts per billion by volume; 15 min average) during the night of 20 September. Air masses reaching the measurement site either originated from long-range transport from the southwest and had an oceanic influence or circulated in the nearby region and were influenced by anthropogenic activities. Nocturnal maximum ClNO2 mixing ratios were around 0.2 ppbv if originating from long-range transport in nearly all seasons, while the values were higher, ranging from 0.4 to 0.6 ppbv for regionally influenced air. The chemical composition of long-range transported air was similar in all investigated seasons, while the regional air exhibited larger differences between the seasons. The N2O5 necessary for ClNO2 formation comes from the reaction of nitrate radicals (NO3) with nitrogen dioxide (NO2), where NO3 itself is formed by a reaction of NO2 with ozone (O3). Measured concentrations of ClNO2, NO2, and O3 were used to quantify ClNO2 production efficiencies, i.e., the yield of ClNO2 formation per NO3 radical formed, and a box model was used to examine the idealized dependence of ClNO2 on the observed nocturnal O3 and NO2 concentrations. Results indicate that ClNO2 production efficiency was most sensitive to the availability of NO2 rather than that of O3 and increased with decreasing temperature. The average ClNO2 production efficiency was highest in February and September, with values of 18 %, and was lowest in December, with values of 3 %. The average ClNO2 production efficiencies were in the range of 3 % and 6 % from August to November for air masses originating from long-range transportation. These numbers are at the high end of values reported in the literature, indicating the importance of ClNO2 chemistry in rural environments in midwestern Europe.


This research has been supported by the H2020 European Research Council (SARLEP; grant no. 681529) and Eurochamp 2020 (grant no. 730997) and the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (ID-CLAR, grant no. 01DO17036; PRACTICE, grant no. 01LP1929A).



Tan, Z., Fuchs, H., Hofzumahaus, A., Bloss, W. J., Bohn, B., Cho, C., Hohaus, T., Holland, F., Lakshmisha, C., Liu, L., Monks, P. S., Novelli, A., Niether, D., Rohrer, F., Tillmann, R., Valkenburg, T. S. E., Vardhan, V., Kiendler-Scharr, A., Wahner, A., and Sommariva, R.: Seasonal variation in nitryl chloride and its relation to gas-phase precursors during the JULIAC campaign in Germany, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 22, 13137–13152,, 2022.

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