Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 119–159 | Cite as

Multi-Phase Chemistry of C2 and C3 Organic Compounds in the Marine Atmosphere

  • Peter WarneckEmail author


A box model is used to explore the detailed chemistry of C2 and C3 organic compounds in the marine troposphere by tracing the individual reaction paths resulting from the oxidation of ethane, ethene, acetylene, propane, propene and acetic acid. The mechanisms include chemical reactions in the gas phase and in the aqueous phase of clouds and aerosol particles at cloud level under conditions resembling those in the northern hemisphere. Organic hydroperoxides are found to be important intermediate products, with subsequent reactions leading partly to the formation of mixed hydroxy or carbonyl hydroperoxides that are readily absorbed into cloud water, where they contribute significantly to the formation of multifunctional organic compounds and organic acids. Organic hydroperoxides add little to the oxidation of sulfur dioxide dissolved in the aqueous phase, which is dominated by H2O2. Next to acetaldehyde and acetone, glycol aldehyde, glyoxal, methyl glyoxal and hydroxy propanone are prominent oxidation products in the gas and the aqueous phase. Acetaldehyde is not efficiently converted to acetic acid in clouds; the major local sources of acetic acid are gas-phase reactions. Other acids produced include hydroperoxy acetic, glycolic, glyoxylic, oxalic, pyruvic, and lactic acid. The mechanism of Schuchmann et al. (1985), which derives glycolic and glyoxylic acid from the oxidation of acetate, is found unimportant in the marine atmosphere. The principal precursors of glyoxylic acid are glyoxal and glycolic acid. The former derives mainly from acetylene and ethene, the latter from glycolaldehyde, also an oxidation product of ethene. The oxidation of glyoxylic acid leads to oxalic acid, which accumulates and is predicted to reach steady state concentrations in the range 30–90 ng m−3. This is greater, yet of the same magnitude, than the concentrations observed over the remote Pacific Ocean.

Key words

oxidation of C2 and C3 hydrocarbons aqueous phase chemistry of C2 and C3 organic compounds acetaldehyde glycol aldehyde glyoxal methyl glyoxal hydroxy propanone acetic acid hydroperoxy acetic acid glycolic acid glyoxylic acid oxalic acid pyruvic acid 


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© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für ChemieMainzGermany

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