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Philip A. Feiner, William H. Brune, David O. Miller, Li Zhang, Ronald C. Cohen, Paul S. Romer, Allen H. Goldstein, Frank N. Keutsch, Kate M. Skog, Paul O. Wennberg, Tran B. Nguyen, Alex P. Teng, Joost DeGouw, Abigail Koss, Robert J. Wild, Steven S. Brown, Alex Guenther, Eric Edgerton, Karsten Baumann, and Juliane L. Fry


The chemical species emitted by forests create complex atmospheric oxidation chemistry and influence global atmospheric oxidation capacity and climate. The Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS) provided an opportunity to test the oxidation chemistry in a forest where isoprene is the dominant biogenic volatile organic compound. Hydroxyl (OH) and hydroperoxyl (HO2) radicals were two of the hundreds of atmospheric chemical species measured, as was OH reactivity (the inverse of the OH lifetime). OH was measured by laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) and by taking the difference in signals without and with an OH scavenger that was added just outside the instrument’s pinhole inlet. To test whether the chemistry at SOAS can be simulated by current model mechanisms, OH and HO2 were evaluated with a box model using two chemical mechanisms: Master Chemical Mechanism, version 3.2 (MCMv3.2), augmented with explicit isoprene chemistry and MCMv3.3.1. Measured and modeled OH peak at about 106 cm−3 and agree well within combined uncertainties. Measured and modeled HO2 peak at about 27 pptv and also agree well within combined uncertainties. Median OH reactivity cycled between about 11 s−1 at dawn and about 26 s−1 during midafternoon. A good test of the oxidation chemistry is the balance between OH production and loss rates using measurements; this balance was observed to within uncertainties. These SOAS results provide strong evidence that the current isoprene mechanisms are consistent with measured OH and HO2 and, thus, capture significant aspects of the atmospheric oxidation chemistry in this isoprene-rich forest.

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