The observation of isotopic compositions of atmospheric nitrate in Shanghai China and its implication for reactive nitrogen chemistry.


Institute of Polar Environment, School of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui 230026, China; Center for Excellence in Urban Atmospheric Environment, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen, Fujian 361021, China; Key Lab of Environmental Optics and Technology, Anhui Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei, Anhui 230031, China; Anhui Province Key Laboratory of Polar Environment and Global Change, School of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui 230026, China. Electronic address: [Email]


The occurrence of PM2.5 pollution in China is usually associated with the formation of atmospheric nitrate, the oxidation product of nitrogen oxides (NOX = NO + NO2). The oxygen-17 excess of nitrate (Δ17O(NO3-)) can be used to reveal the relative importance of nitrate formation pathways and get more insight into reactive nitrogen chemistry. Here we present the observation of isotopic composition of atmospheric nitrate (Δ17O and δ15N) collected from January to June 2016 in Shanghai China. Concentrations of atmospheric nitrate ranged from 1.4 to 24.1 μg m-3 with the mean values being (7.6 ± 4.4 (1SD)), (10.2 ± 5.8) and (4.1 ± 2.4) μg m-3 in winter, spring and summer respectively. Δ17O(NO3-) varied from 20.5‰ to 31.9‰ with the mean value being (26.9 ± 2.8) ‰ in winter, followed by (26.6 ± 1.7) ‰ in spring and the lowest (23.2 ± 1.6) ‰ in summer. Δ17O(NO3-)-constrained estimates suggest that the conversion of NOX to nitrate is dominated by NO2 + OH and/or NO2 + H2O, with the mean possible contribution of 55-77% in total and even higher (84-92%) in summer. A diurnal variation of Δ17O(NO3-) featured by high values at daytime (28.6 ± 1.2‰) and low values (25.4 ± 2.8‰) at nighttime was observed during our diurnal sampling period. This trend is related to the atmospheric life of nitrate (τ) and calculations indicate τ is around 15 h during the diurnal sampling period. In terms of δ15N(NO3-), it changed largely in our observation, from -2.9‰ to 18.1‰ with a mean of (6.4 ± 4.4) ‰. Correlation analysis implies that the combined effect of NOX emission sources and isotopic fractionation processes are responsible for δ15N(NO3-) variations. Our observations with the aid of model simulation in future study will further improve the understanding of reactive nitrogen chemistry in urban regions.


Atmospheric life,Diurnal variation,Nitrate formation,Nitrogen isotope,Oxygen isotope,PM(2.5),

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