Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 133–166

An Atmospheric Chemistry Interpretation of Mass Scans Obtained from a Proton Transfer Mass Spectrometer Flown over the Tropical Rainforest of Surinam


  • J. Williams
    • Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
  • U. Pöschl
    • Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
  • P. J. Crutzen
    • Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
  • A. Hansel
    • Institute for IonphysicsInnsbruck University
  • R. Holzinger
    • Institute for IonphysicsInnsbruck University
  • C. Warneke
    • Institute for IonphysicsInnsbruck University
  • W. Lindinger
    • Institute for IonphysicsInnsbruck University
  • J. Lelieveld
    • Institute for Marine and Atmospheric ResearchUtrecht University

DOI: 10.1023/A:1006322701523

Cite this article as:
Williams, J., Pöschl, U., Crutzen, P.J. et al. Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry (2001) 38: 133. doi:10.1023/A:1006322701523


Data on a variety of organic gases are presented, obtained with a protontransfer mass spectrometer (PTR-MS) operated during the March 1998 LBA/CLAIREairborne measurement campaign, between 60 and 12500 m over the rainforest inSurinam (2° N–5° N, 54° W–57° W). The instrumentcan detect molecules with a proton affinity greater than water, includingalkenes, dialkenes, carbonyls, alcohols, and nitriles. Many such molecules areemitted from the rainforest (e.g., isoprene) or formed from the oxidation ofprimary emissions (e.g., methylvinylketone (MVK) and methacrolein (MACR)).From a comparison with modelled data; the variation with altitude; previouslyreported biogenic emissions and the time and location of the measurement,possible and probable identities for the significant masses encountered in therange 33–140 amu have been deduced.The main observed protonated masses, postulated identities and observedaverage boundary layer mixing ratios over the rainforest were: 33 methanol(1.1 nmol/mol); 42 acetonitrile (190 pmol/mol); 43 multiple possibilities (5.9nmol/mol), 45 acetaldehyde (1.7 nmol/mol), 47 formic acid (not quantified);59 acetone (2.9 nmol/mol), 61 acetic acid (not quantified), 63 dimethylsulphide (DMS) (289 pmol/mol), 69 isoprene (1.7 nmol/mol), 71 MVK + MACR (1.3nmol/mol), 73 methyl ethyl ketone (1.8 nmol/mol), 75 hydroxyacetone (606pmol/mol), 83 C5 isoprene hydroxy carbonylsC5H8O2, methyl furan, and cis 3-hexen-1-ol(732 pmol/mol), 87 C5 carbonyls and methacrylic acid, 95 possibly2-vinyl furan (656 pmol/mol), 97 unknown (305 pmol/mol), 99 cis hexenal (512pmol/mol) and 101 isoprene C5 hydroperoxides (575 pmol/mol). Somespecies agreed well with those derived from an isoprene only photochemicalmodel (e.g., mass 71 MVK + MACR) while others did not and were observed athigher than previously reported mixing ratios (e.g., mass 59 acetone, mass 63DMS). Monoterpenes were not detected above the detection limit of 300pmol/mol. Several species postulated are potentially important sources ofHOx in the free troposphere, e.g., methanol, acetone, methyl ethylketone, methyl vinyl ketone and methacrolein.

proton transfer mass spectrometer (PTR-MS)tropical rainforest emissionsvolatile organic compounds (VOC)isopreneisoprene oxidation productsmethacroleinmethyl vinyl ketoneupper tropospheric HOxtropical OHacetonitrileacetone
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001