Soil HONO Emissions and Its Potential Impact on the Atmospheric Chemistry and Nitrogen Cycle

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 10:20 AM
Hang Su1, Chuchu Chen2, Qiang Zhang2, Ulrich Poeschl1 and Yafang Cheng1, (1)Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany, (2)Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
Hydroxyl radicals (OH) are a key species in atmospheric photochemistry. In the lower atmosphere, up to ~30% of the primary OH radical production is attributed to the photolysis of nitrous acid (HONO), and field observations suggest a large missing source of HONO. The dominant sources of N(III) in soil, however, are biological nitrification and denitrification processes, which produce nitrite ions from ammonium (by nitrifying microbes) as well as from nitrate (by denitrifying microbes). We show that soil nitrite can release HONO and explain the reported strength and diurnal variation of the missing source. The HONO emissions rates are estimated to be comparable to that of nitric oxide (NO) and could be an important source of atmospheric reactive nitrogen. Fertilized soils appear to be particularly strong sources of HONO. Thus, agricultural activities and land-use changes may strongly influence the oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere. A new HONO-DNDC model was developed to simulate the evolution of HONO emissions in agriculture ecosystems. Because of the widespread occurrence of nitrite-producing microbes and increasing N and acid deposition, the release of HONO from soil may also be important in natural environments, including forests and boreal regions.

Reference: Su, H. et al., Soil Nitrite as a Source of Atmospheric HONO and OH Radicals, Science, 333, 1616-1618, 10.1126/science.1207687, 2011.