Measurement of OH reactivity by laser flash photolysis coupled with laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy
Abstract. OH reactivity (k′OH) is the total pseudo-first-order loss rate coefficient describing the removal of OH radicals to all sinks in the atmosphere, and is the inverse of the chemical lifetime of OH. Measurements of ambient OH reactivity can be used to discover the extent to which measured OH sinks contribute to the total OH loss rate. Thus, OH reactivity measurements enable determination of the comprehensiveness of measurements used in models to predict air quality and ozone production, and, in conjunction with measurements of OH radical concentrations, to assess our understanding of OH production rates. In this work, we describe the design and characterisation of an instrument to measure OH reactivity using laser flash photolysis coupled to laser-induced fluorescence (LFP-LIF) spectroscopy. The LFP-LIF technique produces OH radicals in isolation, and thus minimises potential interferences in OH reactivity measurements owing to the reaction of HO2 with NO which can occur if HO2 is co-produced with OH in the instrument. Capabilities of the instrument for ambient OH reactivity measurements are illustrated by data collected during field campaigns in London, UK, and York, UK. The instrumental limit of detection for k′OH was determined to be 1.0 s−1 for the campaign in London and 0.4 s−1 for the campaign in York. The precision, determined by laboratory experiment, is typically < 1 s−1 for most ambient measurements of OH reactivity. Total uncertainty in ambient measurements of OH reactivity is ∼ 6 %. We also present the coupling and characterisation of the LFP-LIF instrument to an atmospheric chamber for measurements of OH reactivity during simulated experiments, and provide suggestions for future improvements to OH reactivity LFP-LIF instruments.