"OH reactivity and concentrations of Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds in a Mediterranean forest of downy oak trees",
Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss.
, vol. 15, pp. 22047--22095, 2015.
<p>Abstract. Understanding the processes between the biosphere and the atmosphere is challenged by the difficulty to determine with enough accuracy the composition of the atmosphere. Total OH reactivity, which is defined as the total loss of the hydroxyl radical in the atmosphere, has proved to be an excellent tool to identify indirectly the important reactive species in ambient air. High levels of unknown reactivity were found in several forests worldwide and were often higher than at urban sites. Such results demonstrated the importance of OH reactivity for characterizing two of the major unknowns currently present associated to forests: the set of primary emissions from the canopy to the atmosphere and biogenic compounds oxidation pathways. Previous studies also highlighted the need to quantify OH reactivity and missing OH reactivity at more forested sites. Our study presents results of a field experiment conducted during late spring 2014 at the forest site at the Observatoire de Haute Provence, OHP, France. The forest is mainly composed of downy oak trees, a deciduous tree species characteristic of the Mediterranean region. We deployed the Comparative Reactivity Method and a set of state-of-the-art techniques such as Proton Transfer Reaction-Mass Spectrometry and Gas Chromatography to measure the total OH reactivity, the concentration of volatile organic compounds and main atmospheric constituents at the site. We sampled the air masses at two heights: 2 m, i.e. inside the canopy, and 10 m, i.e. above the canopy, where the mean canopy height is 5 m. We found that the OH reactivity at the site mainly depended on the main primary biogenic species emitted by the forest, which was isoprene and to a lesser extent by its degradation products and long lived atmospheric compounds (up to 26 % during daytime). We determined that the daytime total measured reactivity equaled the calculated reactivity obtained from the concentrations of the compounds measured at the site. Hence, no significant missing reactivity is reported in this specific site, neither inside, nor above the canopy. However, during two nights we reported a missing fraction of OH reactivity up to 50 %, possibly due to unmeasured oxidation products. Our results confirm the weak intra canopy oxidation, already suggested in a previous study focused on isoprene fluxes. They also demonstrate how helpful can be the OH reactivity as a tool to clearly characterize the suite of species present in the atmosphere. We show that our result of reactivity is among the highest reported in forests worldwide and stress the importance to quantify OH reactivity at more and diverse Mediterranean forests.</p>