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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Heterogeneous photochemistry in the atmosphere.

  • Author(s): George, Christian
  • Ammann, Markus
  • D'Anna, Barbara
  • Donaldson, DJ
  • Nizkorodov, Sergey A
  • et al.

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Atmospheric aerosols can be categorized into primary particles, which are directly emitted by their sources, and secondary particles, generated in the atmosphere from gaseous inorganic and organic precursors. For example, atmospheric oxidation of sulfur containing compounds leads to sulfuric acid and its salts, which represent a major secondary inorganic component of atmospheric aerosols. Likewise, oxidation of nitrogen oxides leads to nitric acid or its salts, which are also abundant in aerosols. The ocean surface, which covers three-quarters of the planet, offers a remarkably dynamic and chemically complex surface for interfacial reactions in the marine boundary layer. The porous nature of permanent or perennial snowpacks adds a tremendous amount of surface area, with which the atmosphere interacts. In short, solar radiation can provide the energy to initiate reactions while atmospherically available surfaces or condensed phases may act to reduce the required energy for a given photochemical pathway, for instance, by allowing a longer wavelength for reaction of species associated with a surface or bulk phase environment.

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