National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2004

Volatile organic compound measurements at Trinidad Head, California, during ITCT 2K2: Analysis of sources, atmospheric composition, and aerosol residence times

Millet, D.B., A.H. Goldstein, J.D. Allan, T.S. Bates, H. Boudries, K.N. Bower, H. Coe, Y. Ma, M. McKay, P.K. Quinn, A. Sullivan, R.J. Weber, and D.R. Worsnop

J. Geophys. Res., 109, D23S16, doi: 10.1029/2003JD004026 (2004)

We report hourly in-situ observations of C1 – C8 speciated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) obtained at Trinidad Head CA in April and May 2002 as part of the NOAA Intercontinental Transport and Chemical Transformation study. Factor analysis of the VOC data set was used to define the dominant processes driving atmospheric chemical composition at the site, and to characterize the sources for measured species. Strong decreases in background concentration were observed for several of the VOCs during the experiment due to seasonal changes in OH concentration. CO was the most important contributor to the total measured OH reactivity at the site at all times. Oxygenated VOCs were the primary component of both the total VOC burden and of the VOC OH reactivity, and their relative importance was enhanced under conditions when local source contributions were minimal. VOC variability exhibited a strong dependence on residence time (slnX = 1.55τ–0.44, r2 = 0.98; where slnX is the standard deviation of the natural logarithm of the mixing ratio), and this relationship was used, in conjunction with measurements of 222Rn, to estimate the average OH concentration during the study period (6.1 × 105 molec/cm3). We also employed the variability-lifetime relationship defined by the VOC data set to estimate submicron aerosol residence times as a function of chemical composition. Two independent measures of aerosol chemical composition yielded consistent residence time estimates. Lifetimes calculated in this manner were between 3–7 days for aerosol nitrate, organics, sulfate, and ammonium. The lifetime estimate for methane sulfonic acid (~12 days) was slightly outside of this range. The lifetime of the total aerosol number density was estimated at 9.8 days.

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