Chlorine atoms (Cl) are highly reactive and can strongly influence the abundances of climate and air quality-relevant trace gases. Despite extensive research on molecular chlorine (Cl2), a Cl precursor, in the polar atmosphere, its sources in other regions are still poorly understood. Here we report the daytime Cl2 concentrations of up to 1 ppbv observed in a coastal area of Hong Kong, revealing a large daytime source of Cl2 (2.7 pptv s−1 at noon). Field and laboratory experiments indicate that photodissociation of particulate nitrate by sunlight under acidic conditions (pH < 3.0) can activate chloride and account for the observed daytime Cl2 production. The high Cl2 concentrations significantly increased atmospheric oxidation. Given the ubiquitous existence of chloride, nitrate, and acidic aerosols, we propose that nitrate photolysis is a significant daytime chlorine source globally. This so far unaccounted for source of chlorine can have substantial impacts on atmospheric chemistry.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)