RONOCO (ROle of Nighttime chemistry in controlling the Oxidising Capacity of the AtmOsphere)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Earth Atmospheric and Env Sciences


There is now a significant and increasing body of evidence that night time chemistry, driven primarily by the nitrate radical NO3, plays a significant role in governing the composition of the troposphere. Recent findings show that very high concentrations of NO3 are present away from the Earth's surface. In polluted environments, the main sinks are abundant but this is also where its formation may be most rapid and hence the NO3 turnover time is very fast. The importance of this behaviour is not as yet clearly understood, yet it may have a very large impact on atmospheric chemistry and ozone formation, regional transport and transformation of oxidised nitrogen and hence acidification and eutrophication, and may also significantly add to the regional burden of ammonium nitrate particulate, which has increasing climatic importance. To understand and predict these phenomena correctly there is a need to quantify the basic chemical processes controlling NO3 and its removal from the atmosphere; the impact of NO3 chemistry on volatile organic carbon chemistry and as a pathway for radical formation and propagation; its heterogeneous chemistry and its impact on the aerosol burden and composition; its influence on ozone formation on regional and global scales and its mediation of the atmospheric lifecycle of oxidised nitrogen. A consortium project is proposed that addresses these coupled questions using a combined programme of instrument development, airborne measurement, detailed process modelling, and regional and global modelling. The principal deliverables will be: a) Enhancements to the instrumental capability of the FAAM aircraft to include measurements of NO3 and N2O5. b) Comprehensive measurements of night time radicals, their sources and sinks, and aerosol composition in the boundary layer and free troposphere in a range of conditions. d) Quantification of the key processes which control night-time chemical processes. e) Assessment of the impacts of night-time chemistry on regional scales. f) An assessment of the global impacts of night-time chemistry in the current and future atmospheres.
Description The research shows that the interaction of aerosol chemical composition on N2O5 uptake is heavily influenced by ammonium nitrate and particulate water content in controlling which controls the heterogeneous uptake of N2O5 in NW Europe.
Exploitation Route Key rates of uptake may be used in air quality models in the future and work is ongoing to develop this. Papers are in the special issue of ACP
Sectors Environment

Description NERC Into the Blue 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact NERC Into the Blue - a week long event at Manchester Airport showcasing the FAAM aircraft and a wide range of NERC science
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description Podcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact PDRA Morgan is involved in an atmospheric science podcast (The Barometer which has covered various themes including air quality in NW Europe over the past year.

Monthly podcast hosted by Manchester atmospheric sciences PDRAs and students featuring a range of air quality, meteorology and climate issues. Has focussed on nighttime air quality in a recent cast
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012