Biogenic Emissions of Light Alkenes from a Coniferous Forest
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Alkenes are reactive hydrocarbons that play important roles in the photochemical production of tropospheric ozone and in the formation of secondary organic aerosols. The light alkenes (C2-C4) originate from both biogenic and anthropogenic sources and include C2H4 (ethene), C3H6 (propene) and C4H8 (1-butene, 2-butene, 2-methylpropene). Light alkenes are used widely as chemical feedstocks because their double bond makes them versatile for industrial reactions. Their biogenic sources are poorly characterized, with most global emissions estimates relying on laboratory-based studies; net ecosystem emissions have been measured at only one site thus far. Here we report net ecosystem fluxes of light alkenes and isoprene from a semi-arid ponderosa pine forest in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA. Canopy scale fluxes were measured using relaxed eddy accumulation (REA) techniques on the 28-meter NCAR tower in the Manitou Experimental Forest Observatory. Updrafts and downdrafts were determined by sonic anemometry and segregated into ‘up’ and ‘down’ reservoirs over the course of an hour. Samples were then measured on two separate automated gas chromatographs (GCs). The first GC measured light hydrocarbons (C2-C6 alkanes and C2-C5 alkenes) by flame ionization detection (FID). The second GC measured halocarbons (methyl chloride, CFC-12, and HCFC-22) by electron capture detection (ECD). Additional air measurements from the top of the tower included hydrocarbons and their oxidation products by Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS). Three field intensives were conducted during the summer of 2014. The REA flux measurements showed that ethene, propene and the butene emissions have significant diurnal cycles, with maximum emissions at midday. The light alkenes contribute significantly to the overall biogenic source of reactive hydrocarbons and have a temporal variability that may be associated with physical and biological parameters. These ecosystem scale measurements will be compared with estimates used in global emissions models.