Oxidative capacity and radical chemistry in the polluted atmosphere of Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta region: Analysis of a severe photochemical smog episode

Likun Xue, Rongrong Gu, Tao Wang, Xinfeng Wang, Sandra Saunders, Donald Blake, Peter K.K. Louie, Connie W.Y. Luk, Isobel Simpson, Zheng Xu, Zhe Wang, Yuan Gao, Shuncheng Lee, Abdelwahid Mellouki, Wenxing Wang

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106 Citations (Scopus)


We analyze a photochemical smog episode to understand the oxidative capacity and radical chemistry of the polluted atmosphere in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region. A photochemical box model based on the Master Chemical Mechanism (MCM v3.2) is constrained by an intensive set of field observations to elucidate the budgets of ROx(ROxDOHCHO2CRO2) and NO3radicals. Highly abundant radical precursors (i.e. O3, HONO and carbonyls), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) facilitate strong production and efficient recycling of ROxradicals. The OH reactivity is dominated by oxygenated VOCs (OVOCs), followed by aromatics, alkenes and alkanes. Photolysis of OVOCs (except for formaldehyde) is the dominant primary source of ROx with average daytime contributions of 34-47 %. HONO photolysis is the largest contributor to OH and the second-most significant source (19-22 %) of ROx. Other considerable ROxsources include O3photolysis (11-20 %), formaldehyde photolysis (10-16 %), and ozonolysis reactions of unsaturated VOCs (3.9-6.2 %). In one case when solar irradiation was attenuated, possibly by the high aerosol loadings, NO3became an important oxidant and the NO3-initiated VOC oxidation presented another significant ROxsource (6.2 %) even during daytime. This study suggests the possible impacts of daytime NO3chemistry in the polluted atmospheres under conditions with the co-existence of abundant O3, NO2, VOCs and aerosols, and also provides new insights into the radical chemistry that essentially drives the formation of photochemical smog in the high-NOxenvironment of Hong Kong and the PRD region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9891-9903
Number of pages13
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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