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Towards a quantitative understanding of total OH reactivity: A review

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Nölscher,  A. C.
Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Keßel,  S.
Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Williams,  J.
Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Yang, Y., Shao, M., Wang, X., Nölscher, A. C., Keßel, S., Guenther, A., et al. (2016). Towards a quantitative understanding of total OH reactivity: A review. Atmospheric Environment, 134, 147-161. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.03.010.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-E8B0-D
Abstract
Over the past fifty years, considerable efforts have been devoted to measuring the concentration and chemical speciation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in ambient air and emissions. Recently, it has become possible to directly determine the overall effect of atmospheric trace gases on the oxidant hydroxyl radicals (OH), by measuring OH reactivity (OH loss frequency). Quantifying total OH reactivity is one way to characterize the roles of VOCs in formation of ground-level ozone and secondary organic aerosols (SOA). Approaches for measuring total OH reactivity in both emissions and ambient air have been progressing and have been applied in a wide range of studies. Here we evaluate the main techniques used to measure OH reactivity, including two methods directly measuring OH decay and one comparative reactivity method (CRM), and summarize the existing experimental and modeling studies. Total OH reactivity varies significantly on spatial, diurnal, seasonal and vertical bates. Comparison with individually detected OH sinks often reveals a significant missing reactivity, ranging from 20% to over 80% in some environments. Missing reactivity has also been determined in most source emission studies. These source measurements, as well as numerical models, have indicated that both undetected primary emissions and unmeasured secondary products could contribute to missing reactivity. A quantitative understanding of total OH reactivity of various sources and ambient environments will enhance our understanding of the suite of compounds found in emissions as well as chemical processes, and will also provide an opportunity for the improvement of atmospheric chemical mechanisms. (C) 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd.