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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Alkyl nitrate photochemical production rates in North Pacific seawater

  • Author(s): Dahl, EE
  • Saltzman, ES
  • et al.

Low molecular weight alkyl nitrates are produced in surface seawater from the photochemically initiated reaction of NO with organic peroxy radicals. In this study, methyl, ethyl, isopropyl, and n-propyl nitrate photochemical production rates were determined from shipboard incubation experiments. Surface water samples from a variety of different North Pacific water masses were irradiated in sunlight, with and without added nitrite. Production was observed in some, but not all unmodified waters. Production rates increased with increasing addition of nitrite. The relative rates of production of C1, C2, and C3alkyl nitrates were roughly constant in all production experiments, and similar to the concentration ratios in ambient waters. This constancy most likely reflects consistency in the ratios of the various organic peroxy radicals involved in the reaction ROO + NO. Alkyl nitrate production rates at 1 μM nitrite concentrations generally did not vary markedly by water type, indicating that distribution of nitrite, not organic matter may control photochemical alkyl nitrate formation in the oceans. At higher nitrite levels, differences in production rates may reflect variations in the concentration or reactivity of dissolved organics. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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