China Pearl River Delta Creating Large Amounts of Hydroxyl Radicals

Jun 06, 2009 by Mary Anne Simpson weblog
Pearl River
Credit: Wikipedia

A team of atmospheric scientists have published their field study findings about unusual chemical reactions taking place in the Pearl River Delta in China during 2006. The Julich Research Center's Institute for Tropospheric Chemistry in Germany and institutes in China and the USA participated in round the clock samplings of various atmospheric constituents in the Pearl River region located about 60 kilometers from Guangzhou noted for its high population and a repository for air borne pollutants wafting in from nearby industrial cities combined with volatile organic substances produced by local vegetation and trees.

The highly reactive hydroxyl radicals typically appear in fractions of a second prior to combining with volatile organic chemicals and other gases which act as a cleanser for the atmosphere. Scientists found unusually high levels and surge in hydroxyl radical levels, but without an accompanying increase in ozone levels around noon time. The scientific team found hydroxyl radicals levels some three to five times more than would be expected in current models of atmospheric chemistry. Altogether, for some inexplicable reason or known source of hydroxyl produced an astounding 28 parts per billion each hour concentration of the chemical.

The net effect is that a not yet discovered process has occurred in the Pearl River Delta that is producing an extremely high level of hydroxyl radicals. The next step of the research is to test samples of the air from the Pearl River region to see if light-stimulated reactions produce similar high readings of hydroxyl radicals under lab conditions. Thus far, the scientists are impressed with their unusual findings, but are only able to speculate on the source coming from a combination of anthropogenic sources, biogenic sources and gases found in the air surrounding the delta.

Source: Amplified Trace Gas Removal in the Troposhere; www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1164566

Explore further: Dead floppy drive: Kenya recycles global e-waste

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Chemists find important contributor to smog

Mar 20, 2008

Chemists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered that a chemical reaction in the atmosphere above major cities long assumed to be unimportant in urban air pollution is in fact a significant ...

Scientists find chlorine may contribute to ozone formation

Jun 13, 2006

Standard methods of predicting air pollution don’t take atmospheric chlorine into account, but the chemical could be responsible for 10 percent or more of daily ozone production in local air, research at UC Irvine has found.

Key molecule discovered in Venus's atmosphere

May 15, 2008

Venus Express has detected the molecule hydroxyl on another planet for the first time. This detection gives scientists an important new tool to unlock the workings of Venus’s dense atmosphere.

Atmosphere may cleanse itself better than previously thought

May 12, 2005

A research team from Purdue University and the University of California, San Diego has found that the Earth’s atmosphere may be more effective at cleansing itself of smog and other damaging hydrocarbons than was once ...

Methane gas levels begin to increase again

Oct 29, 2008

The amount of methane in Earth's atmosphere shot up in 2007, bringing to an end a period of about a decade in which atmospheric levels of the potent greenhouse gas were essentially stable, according to a team led by MIT researchers.

Recommended for you

Dead floppy drive: Kenya recycles global e-waste

Aug 22, 2014

In an industrial area outside Kenya's capital city, workers in hard hats and white masks take shiny new power drills to computer parts. This assembly line is not assembling, though. It is dismantling some ...

New paper calls for more carbon capture and storage research

Aug 22, 2014

Federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must involve increased investment in research and development of carbon capture and storage technologies, according to a new paper published by the University of Wyoming's ...

Coal gas boom in China holds climate change risks

Aug 22, 2014

Deep in the hilly grasslands of remote Inner Mongolia, twin smoke stacks rise more than 200 feet into the sky, their steam and sulfur billowing over herds of sheep and cattle. Both day and night, the rumble ...

User comments : 0