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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
Department of Soil, Water, and Climate

PI: Dylan B. Millet

Top-Down Constraints on Emissions of Atmospheric Organic Compounds

This research applies a combination of in-situ and satellite-based observations to better understand sources and impacts of atmospheric volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Atmospheric VOCs play a critical role in tropospheric chemistry as precursors of tropospheric ozone, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and secondary organic aerosol. The global biosphere is the dominant source of VOCs to the atmosphere, with emissions of isoprene and methanol each estimated to be greater than those of all anthropogenic VOCs combined. These compounds raise several fundamental issues to be resolved: bottom-up VOC inventories are mainly based on extrapolation of localized measurements and are highly uncertain; we lack the data to constrain VOC fluxes over large parts of the globe, and to quantify how emissions depend on environmental drivers and on season; and the impact of VOCs on tropospheric composition is poorly known due to uncertainties in the emission fluxes and in their subsequent photochemistry.

This research applies Eulerian and Lagrangian models combined with atmospheric measurements to address the following questions: 1) What is the distribution of VOC fluxes to the global atmosphere? 2) How do emissions vary with season and environmental forcing? and 3) What is the resulting seasonal impact on tropospheric chemistry via photochemical production of key pollutants such as ozone, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide?

Group Members

Nicholas Boeke, Graduate Student
Lu Hu, Graduate Student
Su Youn Kim, Research Associate
Wes Reinhart, Undergraduate Student
Kelley Wells, Research Associate
Xin Zhang, Research Associate