A Two-Decade Anthropogenic and Biogenic Isoprene Emissions Study in a London Urban Background and a London Urban Traffic Site

Anwar Khan, Billie-Louise Schlich, Michael E. Jenkin, Beth M. A. Shallcross, Katherine Moseley, Catherine Walker, William C. Morris, Richard G. Derwent, Carl J. Percival, Dudley Shallcross

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A relationship between isoprene and 1,3-butadiene mixing ratios was established to separate the anthropogenic and biogenic fractions of the measured isoprene in London air in both urban background (Eltham) and urban traffic (Marylebone Road) areas over two decades (1997–2017). The average daytime biogenic isoprene mixing ratios over this period reached 0.09 ± 0.04 ppb (Marylebone Road) and 0.11 ± 0.06 ppb (Eltham) between the period of 6:00 to 20:00 local standard time, contributing 40 and 75% of the total daytime isoprene mixing ratios. The average summertime biogenic isoprene mixing ratios for 1997–2017 are found to be 0.13 ± 0.02 and 0.15 ± 0.04 ppb which contribute 50 and 90% of the total summertime isoprene mixing ratios for Marylebone Road and Eltham, respectively. Significant anthropogenic isoprene mixing ratios are found during night-time (0.11 ± 0.04 ppb) and winter months (0.14 ± 0.01 ppb) at Marylebone Road. During high-temperature and high-pollution events (high ozone) there is a suggestion that ozone itself may be directly responsible for some of the isoprene emission. By observing the positive correlation between biogenic isoprene levels with temperature, photosynthetically active radiation and ozone mixing ratios during heatwave periods, the Cobb-Douglas production function was used to obtain a better understanding of the abiotic factors that stimulate isoprene emission from plants. Other reasons for a correlation between ozone and isoprene are discussed. The long-term effects of urban stressors on vegetation were also observed, with biogenic isoprene mixing ratios on Marylebone Road dropping over a 20-year period regardless of the sustained biomass levels.
Original languageEnglish
Article number387
Number of pages15
Issue number10
Early online date3 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • isoprene
  • biogenic emissions
  • anthropogenic emissions
  • urban areas
  • heat waves


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