Nitrous acid (HONO) is a major precursor of tropospheric hydroxyl radical (OH) that accelerates the formation of secondary pollutants. The HONO sources, however, are not well understood, especially in polluted areas. Based on a comprehensive winter field campaign conducted at a rural site of the North China Plain, a box model (MCM v3.3.1) was used to simulate the daytime HONO budget and nitrate formation. We found that HONO photolysis acted as the dominant source for primary OH with a contribution of more than 92%. The observed daytime HONO could be well explained by the known sources in the model. The heterogeneous conversion of NO2 on ground surfaces and the homogeneous reaction of NO with OH were the dominant HONO sources with contributions of more than 36 and 34% to daytime HONO, respectively. The contribution from the photolysis of particle nitrate and the reactions of NO2 on aerosol surfaces was found to be negligible in clean periods (2%) and slightly higher during polluted periods (8%). The relatively high OH levels due to fast HONO photolysis at the rural site remarkably accelerated gas-phase reactions, resulting in the fast formation of nitrate as well as other secondary pollutants in the daytime.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry