Abundance of NO3 derived organo-nitrates and their importance in the atmosphere

Amy Foulds, M. A. H. Khan*, Thomas J Bannan, Carl J. Percival, Mark H Lowenberg , Dudley E Shallcross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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The chemistry of the nitrate radical and its contribution to organo-nitrate formation in the troposphere has been investigated using a mesoscale 3-D chemistry and transport model, WRFChem-CRI. The model-measurement comparisons of NO2, ozone and night-time N2O5 mixing ratios show good agreement supporting the model’s ability to represent nitrate (NO3) chemistry
reasonably. Thirty-nine organo-nitrates in the model are formed exclusively either from the reaction of RO2 with NO or by the reaction of NO3 with alkenes. Temporal analysis highlighted a significant contribution of NO3-derived organo-nitrates, even during daylight hours. Night-time NO3-derived organo-nitrates were found to be 3-fold higher than that in the daytime. The reactivity of daytime NO3 could be more competitive than previously thought, with losses due to reaction with VOCs (and subsequent organo-nitrate formation) likely to be just as important as photolysis. This has highlighted the significance of NO3
in daytime organo-nitrate formation, with potential implications for air quality, climate and human health. Estimated atmospheric lifetimes of organo-nitrates showed that the organo-nitrates act as NOx reservoirs, with particularly short-lived species impacting on air quality as contributors to downwind ozone formation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1381
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A.F. thanks EPSRC for her PhD studentship. M.A.H.K. and D.E.S. thank NERC (grant code-NE/K004905/1), Bristol ChemLabS and the Primary Science Teaching Trust under whose auspices various aspects of this work was supported. C.J.P.?s work was carried out at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and was supported by the Upper Atmosphere Research and Tropospheric Chemistry Programs.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • organo-nitrates
  • atmospheric lifetime
  • ozone
  • secondary organic aerosol
  • air quality


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