Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry

, Volume 72, Issue 3–4, pp 235–259 | Cite as

Chemical processing within and above a loblolly pine forest in North Carolina, USA

  • Xiao-Ming HuEmail author
  • Jose D. Fuentes
  • Darin Toohey
  • Daniel Wang


Hydrocarbon species and related meteorological and chemical variables were measured within and immediately above a loblolly pine forest in North Carolina, USA during 15–18 July 2003. The degree of photochemical processing within the forest canopy of biogenic hydrocarbons emitted at the foliage level is investigated with the aid of a one-dimensional photochemical model. Such in-canopy photochemical processes remain poorly understood largely due to limited observations of plant-emitted gases, chemical reactions, and yields of photochemical reactions inside plant canopies. These hydrocarbons are vented into the overlying atmospheric boundary layer and participate in regional-scale photochemical processes. At the forested site, isoprene was the dominant sink for hydroxyl radicals and ozone precursor among all the volatile organic compounds. Abundances of many hydrocarbons peaked in the early morning and late afternoon/early evening due to local emissions, while reaching minima at mid-day due to intense turbulent mixing and vigorous photochemistry. Methyl vinyl ketone and methacrolein, which were produced mostly from isoprene oxidation, had elevated mixing ratios during noontime in addition to maximum levels in the early morning and early evening. Abundances of species with dominant biogenic origin (e.g., isoprene, α-pinene, β-pinene, and limonene) were higher within the canopy than above the forest. For the species produced in the atmospheric boundary layer due to photochemical reactions, abundances residing away from the canopy were higher than those just above the canopy in response to photochemical production and/or transport associated with advection. Within the forest canopy photochemical reactions destroyed approximately 10 % of the locally emitted isoprene. Chemically more reactive species such as limonene experienced greater rates of removal in response to in-canopy chemical processing. Model sensitivity studies indicated that nitrogen oxides limited the formation of oxidants at the forested study site.


Volatile organic compounds Ozone Photochemical canopy model Isoprene Mixed layer 



The Pennsylvania State University provided support to XH to participate in this research. JDF received funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation (grant number ATM 0939455) to partake in this research. Three anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments that improved the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10874_2013_9276_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (577 kb)
Supplement A-1 (PDF 577 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiao-Ming Hu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jose D. Fuentes
    • 2
  • Darin Toohey
    • 3
  • Daniel Wang
    • 4
  1. 1.Center for Analysis and Prediction of StormsUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.Department of MeteorologyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesUniversity of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA
  4. 4.Analysis and Air Quality SectionEnvironment CanadaOttawaCanada

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