Document Type


Date of Original Version



Airborne measurements of a large number of oxygenated volatile organic chemicals (OVOC) were carried out in the Pacific troposphere (0.1–12 km) in winter/spring of 2001 (24 February to 10 April). Specifically, these measurements included acetone (CH3COCH3), methylethyl ketone (CH3COC2H5, MEK), methanol (CH3OH), ethanol (C2H5OH), acetaldehyde (CH3CHO), propionaldehyde (C2H5CHO), peroxyacylnitrates (PANs) (CnH2n+1COO2NO2), and organic nitrates (CnH2n+1ONO2). Complementary measurements of formaldehyde (HCHO), methyl hydroperoxide (CH3OOH), and selected tracers were also available. OVOC were abundant in the clean troposphere and were greatly enhanced in the outflow regions from Asia. Background mixing ratios were typically highest in the lower troposphere and declined toward the upper troposphere and the lowermost stratosphere. Their total abundance (ΣOVOC) was nearly twice that of nonmethane hydrocarbons (ΣC2‐C8 NMHC). Throughout the troposphere, the OH reactivity of OVOC is comparable to that of methane and far exceeds that of NMHC. A comparison of these data with western Pacific observations collected some 7 years earlier (February–March 1994) did not reveal significant differences. Mixing ratios of OVOC were strongly correlated with each other as well as with tracers of fossil and biomass/biofuel combustion. Analysis of the relative enhancement of selected OVOC with respect to CH3Cl and CO in 12 plumes originating from fires and sampled in the free troposphere (3–11 km) is used to assess their primary and secondary emissions from biomass combustion. The composition of these plumes also indicates a large shift of reactive nitrogen into the PAN reservoir thereby limiting ozone formation. A three‐dimensional global model that uses state of the art chemistry and source information is used to compare measured and simulated mixing ratios of selected OVOC. While there is reasonable agreement in many cases, measured aldehyde concentrations are significantly larger than predicted. At their observed levels, acetaldehyde mixing ratios are shown to be an important source of HCHO (and HOx) and PAN in the troposphere. On the basis of presently known chemistry, measured mixing ratios of aldehydes and PANs are mutually incompatible. We provide rough estimates of the global sources of several OVOC and conclude that collectively these are extremely large (150–500 Tg C yr−1) but remain poorly quantified.