Missing Measurements of Sesquiterpene Ozonolysis Rates and Composition Limit Understanding of Atmospheric Reactivity


Environ Sci Technol. 2024 Apr 26. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.3c10348. Online ahead of print.


Emissions of biogenic reactive carbon significantly influence atmospheric chemistry, contributing to the formation and destruction of secondary pollutants, such as secondary organic aerosol and ozone. While isoprene and monoterpenes are a major fraction of emissions and have been extensively studied, substantially less is known about the atmospheric impacts of higher-molecular-weight terpenes such as sesquiterpenes. In particular, sesquiterpenes have been proposed to play a significant role in ozone chemical loss due to the very high ozone reaction rates of certain isomers. However, relatively little data are available on the isomer-resolved composition of this compound class or its role in ozone chemistry. This study examines the chemical diversity of sesquiterpenes and availability of ozone reaction rate constants to evaluate the current understanding of their ozone reactivity. Sesquiterpenes are found to be highly diverse, with 72 different isomers reported and relatively few isomers that contribute a large mass fraction across all studies. For the small number of isomers with known ozone reaction rates, estimated rates may be 25 times higher or lower than measurements, indicating that estimated reaction rates are highly uncertain. Isomers with known ozone reaction rates make up approximately half of the mass of sesquiterpenes in concentration and emission measurements. Consequently, the current state of the knowledge suggests that the total ozone reactivity of sesquiterpenes cannot be quantified without very high uncertainty, even if isomer-resolved composition is known. These results are in contrast to monoterpenes, which are less diverse and for which ozone reaction rates are well-known, and in contrast to hydroxyl reactivity of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, for which reaction rates can be reasonably well estimated. Improved measurements of a relatively small number of sesquiterpene isomers would reduce uncertainties and improve our understanding of their role in regional and global ozone chemistry.

PMID:38669108 | DOI:10.1021/acs.est.3c10348