Observational evidence for interhemispheric hydroxyl-radical parity

P. K. Patra, M. C. Krol, S. A. Montzka, T. Arnold, Elliot L Atlas, B. R. Lintner, B. B. Stephens, B. Xiang, J. W. Elkins, P. J. Fraser, A. Ghosh, E. J. Hintsa, D. F. Hurst, K. Ishijima, P. B. Krummel, B. R. Miller, K. Miyazaki, F. L. Moore, J. Mühle, S. O'DohertyR. G. Prinn, L. P. Steele, M. Takigawa, H. J. Wang, R. F. Weiss, S. C. Wofsy, D. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The hydroxyl radical (OH) is a key oxidant involved in the removal of air pollutants and greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The ratio of Northern Hemispheric to Southern Hemispheric (NH/SH) OH concentration is important for our understanding of emission estimates of atmospheric species such as nitrogen oxides and methane. It remains poorly constrained, however, with a range of estimates from 0.85 to 1.4 (refs 4, 7,8,9,10). Here we determine the NH/SH ratio of OH with the help of methyl chloroform data (a proxy for OH concentrations) and an atmospheric transport model that accurately describes interhemispheric transport and modelled emissions. We find that for the years 2004-2011 the model predicts an annual mean NH-SH gradient of methyl chloroform that is a tight linear function of the modelled NH/SH ratio in annual mean OH. We estimate a NH/SH OH ratio of 0.97 ± 0.12 during this time period by optimizing global total emissions and mean OH abundance to fit methyl chloroform data from two surface-measurement networks and aircraft campaigns. Our findings suggest that top-down emission estimates of reactive species such as nitrogen oxides in key emitting countries in the NH that are based on a NH/SH OH ratio larger than 1 may be overestimated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-223
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume513
Issue number7517
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 11 2014

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Chloroform
Parity
Hydroxyl Radical
Nitrogen Oxides
Air Pollutants
Aircraft
Methane
Proxy
Atmosphere
Oxidants
Gases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Patra, P. K., Krol, M. C., Montzka, S. A., Arnold, T., Atlas, E. L., Lintner, B. R., ... Young, D. (2014). Observational evidence for interhemispheric hydroxyl-radical parity. Nature, 513(7517), 219-223. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13721

Observational evidence for interhemispheric hydroxyl-radical parity. / Patra, P. K.; Krol, M. C.; Montzka, S. A.; Arnold, T.; Atlas, Elliot L; Lintner, B. R.; Stephens, B. B.; Xiang, B.; Elkins, J. W.; Fraser, P. J.; Ghosh, A.; Hintsa, E. J.; Hurst, D. F.; Ishijima, K.; Krummel, P. B.; Miller, B. R.; Miyazaki, K.; Moore, F. L.; Mühle, J.; O'Doherty, S.; Prinn, R. G.; Steele, L. P.; Takigawa, M.; Wang, H. J.; Weiss, R. F.; Wofsy, S. C.; Young, D.

In: Nature, Vol. 513, No. 7517, 11.09.2014, p. 219-223.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Patra, PK, Krol, MC, Montzka, SA, Arnold, T, Atlas, EL, Lintner, BR, Stephens, BB, Xiang, B, Elkins, JW, Fraser, PJ, Ghosh, A, Hintsa, EJ, Hurst, DF, Ishijima, K, Krummel, PB, Miller, BR, Miyazaki, K, Moore, FL, Mühle, J, O'Doherty, S, Prinn, RG, Steele, LP, Takigawa, M, Wang, HJ, Weiss, RF, Wofsy, SC & Young, D 2014, 'Observational evidence for interhemispheric hydroxyl-radical parity', Nature, vol. 513, no. 7517, pp. 219-223. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13721
Patra PK, Krol MC, Montzka SA, Arnold T, Atlas EL, Lintner BR et al. Observational evidence for interhemispheric hydroxyl-radical parity. Nature. 2014 Sep 11;513(7517):219-223. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13721
Patra, P. K. ; Krol, M. C. ; Montzka, S. A. ; Arnold, T. ; Atlas, Elliot L ; Lintner, B. R. ; Stephens, B. B. ; Xiang, B. ; Elkins, J. W. ; Fraser, P. J. ; Ghosh, A. ; Hintsa, E. J. ; Hurst, D. F. ; Ishijima, K. ; Krummel, P. B. ; Miller, B. R. ; Miyazaki, K. ; Moore, F. L. ; Mühle, J. ; O'Doherty, S. ; Prinn, R. G. ; Steele, L. P. ; Takigawa, M. ; Wang, H. J. ; Weiss, R. F. ; Wofsy, S. C. ; Young, D. / Observational evidence for interhemispheric hydroxyl-radical parity. In: Nature. 2014 ; Vol. 513, No. 7517. pp. 219-223.
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AU - Patra, P. K.

AU - Krol, M. C.

AU - Montzka, S. A.

AU - Arnold, T.

AU - Atlas, Elliot L

AU - Lintner, B. R.

AU - Stephens, B. B.

AU - Xiang, B.

AU - Elkins, J. W.

AU - Fraser, P. J.

AU - Ghosh, A.

AU - Hintsa, E. J.

AU - Hurst, D. F.

AU - Ishijima, K.

AU - Krummel, P. B.

AU - Miller, B. R.

AU - Miyazaki, K.

AU - Moore, F. L.

AU - Mühle, J.

AU - O'Doherty, S.

AU - Prinn, R. G.

AU - Steele, L. P.

AU - Takigawa, M.

AU - Wang, H. J.

AU - Weiss, R. F.

AU - Wofsy, S. C.

AU - Young, D.

PY - 2014/9/11

Y1 - 2014/9/11

N2 - The hydroxyl radical (OH) is a key oxidant involved in the removal of air pollutants and greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The ratio of Northern Hemispheric to Southern Hemispheric (NH/SH) OH concentration is important for our understanding of emission estimates of atmospheric species such as nitrogen oxides and methane. It remains poorly constrained, however, with a range of estimates from 0.85 to 1.4 (refs 4, 7,8,9,10). Here we determine the NH/SH ratio of OH with the help of methyl chloroform data (a proxy for OH concentrations) and an atmospheric transport model that accurately describes interhemispheric transport and modelled emissions. We find that for the years 2004-2011 the model predicts an annual mean NH-SH gradient of methyl chloroform that is a tight linear function of the modelled NH/SH ratio in annual mean OH. We estimate a NH/SH OH ratio of 0.97 ± 0.12 during this time period by optimizing global total emissions and mean OH abundance to fit methyl chloroform data from two surface-measurement networks and aircraft campaigns. Our findings suggest that top-down emission estimates of reactive species such as nitrogen oxides in key emitting countries in the NH that are based on a NH/SH OH ratio larger than 1 may be overestimated.

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