Analysis of High Frequency Site-Specific Nitrogen and Oxygen Isotopic Composition of Atmospheric Nitrous Oxide at Mace Head, Ireland

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Michael J McClellan1, Eliza Jean Harris1,2, William Olszewski1, Shuhei Ono1 and Ronald G Prinn1, (1)MIT, Cambridge, MA, United States, (2)Swiss Federal Institute for Materials Science and Technology, Dübendorf, Switzerland
Atmospheric nitrous oxide (N2O) significantly impacts Earth's climate due to its dual role as an inert potent greenhouse gas in the troposphere and as a reactive source of ozone-destroying nitrogen oxides in the stratosphere. However, there remain significant uncertainties in the global budget of this gas. The marked spatial divide in its reactivity means that all stages in the N2O life cycle—emission, transport, and destruction—must be examined to understand the overall effect of N2O on climate. Source and sink processes of N2O lead to varying concentrations of N2O isotopologues (14N14N16O, 14N15N16O, 15N14N16O, and 14N14N18O being measured) due to preferential isotopic production and elimination in different environments. Estimation of source and sink fluxes can be improved by combining isotopically resolved N2O observations with simulations using a chemical transport model with reanalysis meteorology and treatments of isotopic signatures of specific surface sources and stratospheric intrusions. We present the first few months of site-specific nitrogen and oxygen isotopic composition data from the Stheno-TILDAS instrument (Harris et al, 2013) at Mace Head, Ireland and compare these to results from MOZART-4 (Model for Ozone and Related Chemical Tracers, version 4) chemical transport model runs including N2O isotopic fractionation processes and reanalysis meterological fields (NCEP/NCAR, MERRA, and GEOS-5). This study forms the basis for future inverse modeling experiments that will improve the accuracy of isotopically differentiated N2O emission and loss estimates.

Ref: Harris, E., D. Nelson, W. Olszewski, M. Zahniser, K. Potter, B. McManus, A. Whitehill, R. Prinn, and S. Ono, Development of a spectroscopic technique for continuous online monitoring of oxygen and site-specific nitrogen isotopic composition of atmospheric nitrous oxide, Analytical Chemistry, 2013; DOI: 10.1021/ac403606u.